What is Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder?

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is typified by an individual feeling high levels of anxiety following a particularly traumatic or distressing event.  The onset of this anxiety state may happen immediately after the event or may be delayed until sometime later in life. In some cases the negative thoughts around these events may lie dormant for many years until they are triggered and resurface. By definition the person suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder will been symptom-free prior to experiencing that event.

Events that can cause post traumatic include:

Girl in bottle
  •  Serious accidents
  • Domestic violence
  • Crime
  • Violent physical assaults, sexual assaults
  • Sexual abuse
  • Physical abuse
  • Neglect (physical and/or emotional)
  • Natural disaster
  • Military combat
  • Witnessing any substantially distressing event.

Signs and Symptoms of PTSD

Flashbacks and nightmares - The individual relives the traumatic event in great detail experiencing the same negative emotions over and over again.  These vivid and distressing images can happen during waking hours or while asleep.

Being hyper vigilant or on guard - This is where an individual is on a high state of alert and unable to relax. This may also lead to the person being become preoccupied with their own safety and those around them.

Numbing and avoiding - Often referred to as “blocking things out”. In some case an individual may not wish to accept they have gone through such a traumatic event and choose to ignore it and its impact. By numbing their senses others hope that the event or similar issues will no longer present and issue.


These psychological factors may also cause the sufferer to feel physical effects of post-traumatic stress disorder these include;

  • feeling panic
  • feeling fearful
  • headaches
  • anger
  • depression
  • muscle aches and pain
  • stomach upsets
  • diarrhoea

It is common for those who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder to increase their alcohol consumption or turn to drugs to help resolve these issues or block them out further, often adding to the difficulties they face.


Impact on the family

Post-traumatic stress disorder can be a very isolating illness. Often the individual has flashbacks and nightmares which can be very distressing for both themselves and those around them. Loved ones may lose patience and become frustrated with the sufferer, as it is difficult to understand and empathise having not been through the same situation they have.  People may not wish to discuss these situations and appear closed off from those around them. This is particularly difficult for supportive family members who wish to aid in recovery, and can often feel that they are being rejected. Accompanying drug and alcohol issues can be a significant concern for those with PTSD as they contribute significantly to conflict within the household


How can we help?

The Practice MK offers Counselling and Psychotherapy, often called Talking Therapies to help individuals and their families to make sense of what is often a confusing and frightening experience. Therapy sessions are delivered by trained and experienced practitioners who will provide the opportunity to discuss issues in a safe, understanding and supportive environment.

Individuals and their therapist may wish to discuss current or past issue affecting them, feelings they have around these issues and how these issues affect them and those around them. During sessions, individuals and therapists will look at coping strategies and methods to ensure positive outcomes for all concerned.

All our counsellors and therapists are accredited by the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP)


If you or someone you know may have PTSD, drop us an email or telephone call and we can talk to you more about the services we provide.

The Practice MK