Post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a psychiatric condition that may be suffered if you experience or are witness to a life-threatening event or a particularly traumatic occurrence. PTSD is a condition which can affect both men and women, regardless of their age.
For men, traumatic situations most often associated with PTSD are rape, events of serving with armed forces, childhood neglect and childhood physical abuse. For women, it is rape, sexual assault, physical attack, being threatened with a weapon and childhood physical abuse. Other factors that can cause PTSD include natural disasters, terrorist attacks, serious accidents, or even being diagnosed with a serious illness.
Symptoms associated with Post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
Symptoms of PTSD are both psychological and physical. These usually develop within three months of the traumatic event, although they can appear up to a year later. These include:
- Reliving the experience through nightmares and flashbacks
- Numbness and loss of deep feelings
- Difficulty in concentrating
- Suffering painful emotions such as guilt, anger and anxiety
- Avoidance of dealing with grief, anger and anxiety
- Avoidance of activities that could trigger memories of the event
- Alcohol or drug use
- Headaches, dizziness and chest pains
- Irritability and difficulty sleeping.
If left untreated, these symptoms can become severe and long lasting which can subsequently affect your family, social and work life.
Care and managment of Post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
To assess whether you are suffering from PTSD, you may be required to undergo structured interviews and psychological assessments. The symptoms of PTSD must also last for at least a month.
You may be prescribed medication to reduce the anxiety, depression and insomnia often experienced with PTSD. In some cases, medication may help to relieve the distress and emotional numbness caused by traumatic memories, and also helps you to participate in psychotherapy sessions. A range of antidepressant drugs are also used in treating the condition.
How the Priory can help
Once diagnosed with PTSD, there are a range of treatments available. The specialists at the Priory will talk through the options available and recommend the most suitable treatment based on your personal circumstances. Post traumatic stress disorder treatment options include:
Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT)
Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) helps you understand your thought processes and how to change your feelings and reactions to your symptoms. One form of CBT is Exposure Therapy, which is unique to treating trauma. This involves you imagining the trauma in a safe, controlled environment to help you face up to your fears. This enables our specialists to examine your reactions to the event and help you overcome your anger, shame or guilt. This will enable you to deal with the post-traumatic memories and feelings without becoming overwhelmed or emotionally numb.
Eye movement desensitisation and reprocessing (EMDR)
Eye movement desensitisation and reprocessing (EMDR), combines elements of exposure therapy and CBT with eye-movement techniques. While concentrating on your traumatic experience, special rapid eye movements will help you through the healing process and improve your confidence.
By discussing your emotions and trauma with a group of other PTSD sufferers, you will achieve greater understanding of your condition and emotions. Group post traumatic stress disorder treatment will help you become more confident and trusting, and enable you to focus on the present rather than the past.
Brief psychodynamic psychotherapy
This focuses on the emotional conflicts caused by the traumatic event, particularly experiences when you were young. By working with a calm and unbiased therapist, you will achieve a greater sense of self-esteem and develop effective methods of thinking and coping with intense emotions.