When you experience or witnesses danger, your body prepares to take action with the “fight-or-flight” response. Your heart rate speeds up, breathing quickens and you feel anxious and ‘pumped’, enabling you to run or combat danger. Fear is a natural and healthy response to a life-threatening event. These feelings of fear normally fade away after the traumatic event.
However, when the fear, anxiety, and memories of the trauma(s) persist for a long period of time and interfere with your ability to function in life this may then result in Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Traumatic experiences that involve death, actual or threatened serious physical, psychological, emotional, or sexual injury or violence, can potentially cause PTSD, e.g. sexual assault, living in a war zone, torture, and natural disasters.
Post-traumatic stress disorder can be a chronic and disabling condition that has a devastating impact on the individual, their relationships and their families. Every person responds to trauma differently and vary greatly. Although some may experience extreme distress, most eventually recover on their own. Only a minority of people develop PTSD after a traumatic event. Symptoms may be evident for a month, however, can stay dormant for many years. Other conditions may also develop, such as depression or substance abuse. PTSD is a treatable anxiety disorder and with the right support and treatment, recovery is possible.
The main symptoms of PTSD are:
• Re-experiencing the trauma e.g. memories, nightmares or flashbacks
• Avoiding reminders of the trauma e.g. changing routine, feeling numb, staying away from the trigger
• Negative thoughts and mood e.g. sense of hopelessness, negativity, blaming, worry, depression, anger or guilt, loss of memory and enjoyment, becoming detached,
• Increased alertness to the environment and physical response to sudden changes that could be a sign of danger e.g. easily startled, irritable or aggressive behaviour, difficulty sleeping, on the edge, poor concentration
Risk factors for developing PTSD include:
• repeated trauma
• a past history of mental disorder
• a history of trauma or abuse in early childhood
• the severity of the trauma
• lack of social support
• extra life stresses after the trauma
• the type of traumatic event
If you have any questions or would like to make an appointment, please contact me on 8448 1106.