In Anxiety, Depression, Health, PTSD, Stress

What Is PTSD?

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is a set of reactions that can develop in an individual after a traumatic event, which threatened their life or safety, or others around them. As a result of the event, the individual experiences severe feelings of fear, helplessness, horror or psychical reactions when triggered by something that reminds them of the event.

Types of Trauma

Sexual Assault

This involves any unwanted and involuntary sexual behaviour toward a person. The victim is forced or coerced to engage in an act against their will in a non-consensual setting.

Domestic Violence

Domestic violence refers to violence, abuse and intimidation between people who are are currently or have previously been in an intimate relationship. The perpetrator uses violence to control and dominate the other person. This causes fear, physical harm and/or psychological harm. Domestic violence is a violation of human rights

War Related Trauma

  • Refugee and War Zone Trauma: Exposure to war, political violence, or torture, and the result of living in an active war zone affected by bombing, shooting, and/or looting, as well as forced displacement due to political reasons.
  • Terrorism: Any psychological or physical trauma caused by a terrorist event, due to political or religious reasons.
  • Combat-related Trauma: This is trauma experienced by military personnel engaged in direct warfare, which lead to psychological harm.

Medical Trauma

Traumatic reactions to medical conditions, invasive medical procedures, or treatments that have/may cause pain, injury, or illness.

Traumatic Loss

This is the grief of suddenly losing someone close to you, such as a partner, child, or family member.

Child Maltreatment

This includes, but is not limited to: Neglect by a parent or care giver, Physical abuse the child may have experienced, Sexual abuse that may have taken place between a child and an adult, and Emotional abuse/psychological maltreatment which is any act against the child that may have caused cognitive, affective, or any other mental disturbances. Acts of omission against a child, such as emotional neglect or intentional social deprivation, is also considered emotional abuse.

Recognising the Cognitive and Emotional Signs of Trauma

  1. Sleep Difficulties: Problems may include falling asleep, staying asleep, or experiencing frequent nightmares.
  2. Anger: The person may feel irritable, and may experience frequent anger outbursts that are difficult to control.
  3. Numbness and Disconnection: Trauma victims may feel disconnected from others. They may also feel numb and have difficulty accessing the loving feelings they know they have for loved ones.
  4. Depression: Depressed mood, hopelessness, and a loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities are common.
  5. Chronic Anxiety: Individuals often report feeling on guard and hypervigilant, and they have difficulty relaxing and “unwinding.”
  6. Reliving the Trauma: Highly distressing thoughts and memories of the event may repeat in the mind, despite the individual’s attempts to avoid or stop them.
  7. Feeling Unsafe: The person may experience intense feelings of fear or impending doom even when no danger is present. They may also feel as though it is impossible to ever feel safe again.
  8. Thoughts of Suicide: Suicidal thoughts may be active, with an intention and plan to commit suicide

Recognising the Behavioural Changes of Someone Suffering from Trauma

  1. Relationships with Others: Increased conflict with others, withdrawal from relationships, and decreased trust and intimacy are common PTSD indicators.
  2. Self-Esteem/Relationship with Self: Changes may also take place in an individual’s relationship with themself. Self-harm behaviours, thoughts of suicide, and reduced self-care and self-esteem can be signs of a serious post-trauma reaction.
  3. Work Performance: Those suffering from PTSD often experience difficulty concentrating, sometimes due to thoughts about the traumatic event, or lack of sleep. This in turn may compromise one’s ability to complete daily tasks or to perform well at work.
  4. Lifestyle: After a trauma some individuals go to great lengths to avoid reminders of the event. For instance, they may isolate themselves and give up hobbies or activities they used to enjoy. The purpose of this may be to feel safer and less vulnerable, and to reduce reminders of the trauma. For example, a war veteran who was bombed in a crowd overseas may avoid concerts despite his love of music, in order to feel safe.
  5. Coping: Ineffective coping strategies may be adopted after trauma. For instance, an individual may begin drinking alcohol or using drugs to cope with their symptoms. Often, these unhealthy ways of coping help the individual temporarily avoid reminders of the traumatic event.

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