What is PTSD?
Recognising the signs and symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a long-term mental health condition and response to a severe and harrowing experience, or events. Someone with PTSD may have witnessed or experienced a violent assault, sexual abuse, torture, traumatic accident, devastating injury or survived active combat.
PTSD is most commonly associated with people who have served in the Armed Forces. But the majority of people – around 95 per cent – who are diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder, come from other walks of life.
The symptoms of PTSD can occur in emergency service, rescue, transport, support and other workers exposed to to traumatic injury, death, disaster and dangerous situations, as well as people who have been abused, assaulted, or survived life-changing trauma.
What are the symptoms of PTSD?
Emotional responses to devastating events include depression, anxiety, anger, helplessness, guilt and grief. This is known as an acute stress reaction and is experienced by most people who survive or witness a traumatic event.
With emotional support, therapy, or medication many people can live through an acute stress reaction and, within a month or two, feel they’re in a place to get on with their normal life.
PSTD can make it harder to cope with an acute stress reaction and function in the aftermath of an emotional trauma. The symptoms of post traumatic stress can begin within hours or days, or over a period of months of an incident.
The symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder are broadly defined in three groups. As well as primary response emotions, someone with PTSD can experience
Nightmares and flashbacks – which are realistic and terrifying
Avoidance and numbing – avoiding thoughts, people and places that may take your mind back
Hypervigilance – feeling wired, anxious, jumpy and constantly on guard