Worryingly, those who suffer from PTSD will often do so in silence, with a reported 70% of people with the disorder not seeking or receiving professional help.

What is PTSD?

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a mental illness caused by exposure to highly distressing events. Flashbacks of such events and symptoms including hypersensitivity to noise are commonly suffered with PTSD, and many people who have served in the armed forces struggle from what was once named ‘shell-shock’, although anyone can be affected by the disorder.

Worryingly, those who suffer from PTSD will often do so in silence, with a reported 70% of people with the disorder not seeking or receiving professional help. The illness can impact hugely on a person’s quality of life and relationships with friends, family and colleagues so it is important to understand the need for psychological assistance.

What are the signs and symptoms of PTSD?

Some people will be exposed to trauma and find they suffer from symptoms which disappear after a few weeks, however if they continue it may be that the mind is affected by PTSD. Quite often people will notice symptoms begin within three months of the trauma, however they can develop even up to a year later.  Symptoms differ from person to person and can affect children differently, however listed below are some of the commonly experienced (in adults) signs of PTSD.

  • Feeling constantly on edge and on high alert to danger
  • hypersensitivity to noise
  • intense feelings of fear
  • strong feelings of irritability
  • anxiety/depression/panic attacks/mood swings
  • uncharacteristic aggression and anger
  • flashbacks/nightmares of the traumatic event
  • feeling numb both mentally and physically
  • avoidance of social activities
  • difficulty concentrating on tasks and at work
  • misuse of alcohol and drugs
  • self harm
  • suicidal thoughts

Causes of PTSD

PTSD is caused by exposure to a traumatic event e.g. a violent attack or rape or period of trauma e.g. soldiers in active combat. Victims may have witnessed a distressing sight or been personally harmed either as a child or adult. ‘Secondary PTSD’ is a type of the illness which can affect those who are close to others who have been through a distressing event or are suffering from PTSD themselves. It is therefore very important for those supporting friends and family to take care of their own mental wellbeing during these difficult times.

Anyone can experience PTSD but you may be more susceptible to the illness if you have previously experienced anxiety or depression, have a very stressful job that exposes you to traumatic events or have little or no support network around you from family or friends.

The different types of PTSD

Delayed-onset PTSD – This type if PTSD is diagnosed if symptoms emerge more than 6 months after the initial trauma occurred.

Complex PTSD – A type of mental illness that is caused by multiple traumatic events, often experienced at a young age.

Birth trauma – PTSD that is triggered by the event of a distressing childbirth.

Secondary PTSD - A type of illness caused by the impact of supporting someone with PTSD or being exposed to details of traumatic events within a job.

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