PTSD is a disorder, which can develop after a traumatic event or set of circumstances. It can be either physical trauma, emotional trauma or a combination of both. After any traumatic event, there can be a period of time when a person can suffer with PTSD symptoms. However, PTSD is only diagnosed if the symptoms last longer than one month.
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders defines PTSD as a ‘constellation of symptoms and behaviours that includes three core clusters; re-experience the trauma in the form of intrusive thoughts, dreams and images, avoidance of thoughts or reminders of the trauma, together with emotional numbing and withdrawal and signs of increased central and autonomic arousal’.
Traumatic events associated with PTSD covers a broad spectrum. These include, but not exhaustive;
- Natural and man-made disasters
- Assault, burglary, robbery and kidnapping
- Abuse (sexual, emotional, physical, bullying)
The severity of the event and how the event occurred can have an impact on how the person is affected. For example, the suddenness of the event, severity of threat to life, individual’s personality and the degree in which the person feels powerless.
The effects of the trauma are not only felt by the person directly involved but can also include families of the person involved, witnesses and the emergency services.
A bit of history
PTSD has been long associated with the effects of war, dating back to the Ancient Egyptian, where Ancient Assyrians spoke of the dead enemies coming back to haunt the warriors. Throughout military history there has been debate around a range of conditions such as nervous shock, traumatic neurosis, soldier’s heart, shell shock, fright neuroses and battle fatigue. It wasn’t until 1980 that these conditions were considered chronic rather than short-term adjustment. This came to light when researchers were working with Vietnam veterans.
So how do you know if you are experiencing PTSD?
There are a number of key factors in the diagnosis of PTSD:
- You must have been exposed to or involved in a traumatic event or situations, which involves actual death or threatened death, actual or threatened serious injury, threat to physical integrity of self or others and the response must involve fear, helplessness or horror.
- You must be reliving the trauma consistently. This could be through a number of ways including; distressing and recurrent recollections, nightmares and flashbacks, phobias about specific daily routines and feelings of guilt.
- You may also be avoiding stimuli associated with the trauma. For example, disengaging from interests or hobbies, detachment from others emotionally and avoidance of thoughts and feelings associated with the trauma.
- You could be persistently experiencing symptoms of increased arousal, leading to sleep problems, hyper-vigilance (always being on guard), joint/muscle pain and feelings of nervousness.
- You may find that during day to day activities you are experiencing violent outbursts, increased irritability, loss of memory, low self esteem, inability to concentrate etc.
Children and PTSD
Children, unlike adults, are uniquely vulnerable. Statistics show that boys are more likely to suffer from physical abuse and girls are more likely to suffer from sexual abuse. Particular childhood stressors include; threat to harm of their life, sudden destruction of home or community, threat of harm to their loved ones and witnessing someone seriously injured or killed.
There are many treatments available including prescribed drugs, hypnotherapy, psychotherapy, physiotherapy amongst many more. There are also lots of things that you can do in combination with treatment, such as avoiding caffeine and nicotine, get plenty of rest and eating a healthy diet.
Solution focused hypnotherapy
Solution focused hypnotherapy has shown to be very successful in helping clients overcome troublesome memories of trauma, through a number of specific techniques. The premise behind hypnotherapy is that is aims to access your unconscious and change the negative thoughts that are holding you back. Using the power of suggestion, hypnotherapy works to promote positive change. The suggestions used will depend on your symptoms and what you wish to gain from your sessions. At the moment I am just offering online appointments due to Covid-19.
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