Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

When a traumatic event occurs, it is not uncommon to feel distressed, confused or upset, think about it constantly or find it hard to go back to your daily routine afterwards. However, these effects do not normally last for a long time. When these effects are severe and persist over a month, you may be experiencing PTSD.

PTSD is a type of anxiety disorder that a person might develop as a response to being involved or witnessing a traumatic event such as road or work accidents, natural disasters, physical or sexual assault, severe neglect, receiving a diagnosis of life-threatening illness, military combat, threatening work situations (e.g., firefighters, police, A&E stuff), witnessing violent acts (e.g., suicide, death, murder) or any life-threatening situation.

If you are suffering from PTSD, you are likely to experience some or most of the following signs and symptoms:

Physiological symptoms

  • Dizziness
  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • Light headiness
  • Pain (e.g., chest and stomach pain)
  • Palpitations
  • Tension and muscle aches
  • Trembling
  • Sweating

Psychological

  • Angry outbursts and/or irritability
  • Concentration problems
  • Feeling on edge (e.g., anxious, frightened, panicky, frustrated)
  • Feelings of guilt or shame
  • Disturbed sleep
  • Hyper-vigilance
  • Intense distress when encountering reminders
  • Nightmares
  • Repetitive, intrusive and distressing images or sensations
  • Vivid flashbacks

Behavioural Symptoms

  • Avoiding places that trigger memories of the traumatic event
  • Destructive behaviour such as alcohol or drug misuse
  • Self-harm
  • Reckless behaviour
  • Withdrawal or isolation

There are different types of PTSD such as:

  • Single incident PTSD – might occur as a result of a one-off traumatic event (e.g., road accident, fire, flood, sexual/physical assault)
  • Complex PTSD – might occur both in adults or children as a result of experiencing repeated traumatic events such as physical/emotional/sexual abuse or neglect. Often in complex PTSD, the traumatic events occurred during young age and lasted for a prolonged period of time, often by a trusting adult (e.g., carer, parent or a significant other)
  • Birth trauma – is referred to PTSD that might occur after giving birth