What is a trauma?
A trauma is an event that generates intense fear during which an individual may feel like they (or someone very close to them) may die or experience serious harm. A trauma is personal and therefore any event may be perceived as such.
Traumatic events go beyond daily stressful events. Examples may be:
Road traffic accident
Witnessing someone being badly injured or killed
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is an anxiety disorder caused by very stressful, frightening or distressing events.
The type of events that can cause PTSD include:
- Serious road accidents
- Violent personal assaults, such as sexual assault, mugging or robbery
- Prolonged sexual abuse, violence or severe neglect
- Witnessing violent deaths
- Military combat
- Being held hostage
- Terrorist attacks
- Natural disasters, such as severe floods, earthquakes or tsunamis
PTSD can develop immediately after someone experiences a disturbing event or it can occur weeks, months or even years later.
PTSD is estimated to affect about 1 in every 3 people who have a traumatic experience, but it's not clear exactly why some people develop the condition and others don't.
Before having treatment for PTSD, a detailed assessment of your symptoms will be carried out to ensure treatment is tailored to your individual needs.
Counselling & therapy for Post-Traumatic Stress (PTSD)
The first stage is an assessment with one of our Psychologists, experienced in identifying and managing PTSD or Anxiety and determine its severity. A full report will be sent to you by email within 7 days of your assessment.
Our Psychologists are used as expert witnesses in civil and criminal cases and can be called upon to give evidence of their assessments.
Following your assessment we will may invite you to attend a course of either:
- Trauma focussed CBT
- EMDR Therapy
If we believe that a drug prescription coupled with a psychological intervention is necessary we will refer you to your GP.
Signs & Symptoms
The symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can have a significant impact on your day-to-day life.
Symptoms can develop during the first month after a traumatic event. However, in a minority of cases, there may be a delay of months or even years before symptoms start to appear.
Some people with PTSD experience long periods when their symptoms are less noticeable, followed by periods where they worsen. Other people have severe symptoms that are constant.
The specific symptoms of PTSD can vary widely between individuals, but they generally fall into the categories described below.
Re-experiencing is the most typical symptom of PTSD. This is when a person involuntarily and vividly re-lives the traumatic event in the form of flashbacks, nightmares or repetitive and distressing images or sensations.
Avoidance and emotional numbing
Trying to avoid being reminded of the traumatic event is another key symptom of PTSD. This usually means avoiding certain people or places that remind you of the trauma, or avoiding talking to anyone about your experience.
Hyperarousal (feeling 'on edge')
Someone with PTSD may be very anxious and find it difficult to relax. They may be constantly aware of threats and easily startled. This state of mind is known as hyperarousal.
Many people with PTSD also have a number of other problems, including:
- depression, anxiety and phobias
- drug misuse or alcohol misuse
- headaches, dizziness, chest pains and stomach aches
PTSD sometimes leads to work-related problems and the breakdown of relationships.
PTSD in children
PTSD can affect children as well as adults. Children with the condition can have similar symptoms to adults, such as having trouble sleeping and upsetting nightmares.
Like adults, children with PTSD may also lose interest in activities that they used to enjoy and they may have physical symptoms such as headaches and stomach aches.
However, there are some symptoms that are more specific to children with PTSD, such as:
- Being unusually anxious about being separated from a parent or other adult
- Re-enacting the traumatic event(s) through their play