What is PTSD?
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) affects 1 in 3 people following experiencing or witnessing a traumatic event (NHS.UK). PTSD symptoms can present immediately, weeks or years after the traumatic event occurred. PTSD can result from one event, or multiple traumatic events.
PTSD symptoms include re-experiencing the traumatic event(s) through; nightmares, flashbacks, physical sensations. Often in PTSD we can get caught up in rumination, repetitive thinking which asks questions about the trauma, for example why it occurred, what we could have done differently. Due to the distress associated with traumatic memories we may try to push the memories away using strategies such as; avoiding talking about the trauma(s), distraction keeping busy, trying not to feel anything/numbing, use of alcohol or drugs.
Common emotions we may experience with PTSD:
Alternatively, we may feel numb and disconnected, often due to trying to push the memories away.
PTSD can mean that we become hypervigilant, on edge, unable to relax, we may be overly alert to our surroundings and on the lookout for potential threat. Hypervigilance can make us feel irritable, on edge and mean that we having a difficulty concentrating. Often with PTSD we may have difficulty sleeping, or experience difficulties with waking up during sleep, for some people they may try to avoid going to sleep due to nightmares experienced.
Impact on Functioning
As with all mental health conditions, for some people the condition impacts many areas of their lives and this is evident, this is something we can see, for example the impact can be on our:
However, for some people we cannot evidently see their difficulties, they may be attending work, engaging socially, continuing their usual activities. In clinic we use a metaphor of a duck swimming on a pond. We can seem to be moving without effort, gliding through life, just like the duck on the water. However, while we may appear fine on appearance, we can be paddling very hard underwater, struggling where people cannot see. No matter the visible impact upon your daily functioning, we are here to support you to overcome the current difficulties you are experiencing.
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