What is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)?
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (sometimes written 'Post-traumatic Stress Disorder', 'Posttraumatic Stress Disorder', or simply 'PTSD') is an anxiety disorder which develops in some individuals who have been exposed to a traumatic event . A 'traumatic event' is an extreme and unusual event in which someone's life or health is perceived to be under threat. The sorts of traumatic events that can sometimes lead to PTSD include: physical attacks, sexual assault, natural disasters (eg. Earthquakes, tsunamis and cyclones), motor vehicle accidents, other traumatic accidents, and war experiences.
Just because you experience some anxiety or other problems after a traumatic event does not mean you will necessarily develop Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or any other psychological condition!
It should be pointed out that not everyone who experiences a traumatic event develops Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. In fact even some of the people who experience some of the symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in the first few days following a traumatic incident, then experience a natural recovery over a period of several days or weeks without seeking professional psychological assistance.
That being said, a sizable minority of people who are confronted with a traumatic experience, especially the more severe traumatic experiences, do develop some form of post traumatic reaction, such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
People with PTSD often find that despite attempts to avoid thinking about the traumatic event, the memory of it continues force it's way into a person's consciousness, either through through nightmares at night, and / or thoughts, images or flashbacks while awake. It's as if the memory is indelibly etched on their mind and is continually seeking opportunities to invade the conscious mind.
They may avoid things that remind them of the traumatic incident, avoid discussing the incident, and keep themselves occupied with other activities to keep the upsetting thoughts at bay.
While some people have greater success at suppressing the upsetting PTSD-related memories in the short term, they may experience other symptoms such as insomnia, irritability or even angry outbursts, seem to be easily startled, and find themselves constantly on the lookout for another such traumatic event.
It is important to note that symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder vary greatly from person to person. Some people experience strong intrusive thoughts and nightmares, while others experience less intrusive memories but more severe anxiety and stress symptoms.
Many people with post traumatic stress disorder report feeling detached from their present reality, and report emotional numbing. They say they don't seem to feel the same positive feelings for people they care about that they had experienced prior to the traumatic trigger event. For more on symptoms of PTSD click here .
For details how to find a therapist / psychologist near you with expertise in PTSD treatment
click here .
For 24 hour telephone counselling in Australia call Lifeline on 13 11 14. For urgent assistance call your local mental health service, or attend your GP or your nearest hospital.