PTSD stands for Post traumatic stress disorder. It can occur
if you have experienced something traumatic within your life time. It may have taken
place in one single severely traumatic event or within several less severe experiences.
Traumatic stress can be distressing but it’s important to
remember that it’s normal response.
Who gets it?
PTSD can be experienced by anyone at any time in their life. It is a condition typically associated with survivors of war or those who have experienced a physical attack, sexual assault, abuse, natural disasters or other serious events. Some may be more likely to develop PTSD than others, and it is reported women are more likely to develop PTSD than men.
What are the symptoms?
Flashbacks – re-living the traumatic event which
includes physical symptoms such as sweating or a racing heart.
Avoiding certain places or other reminders of
Feeling tense or being easily startled
Trouble remembering certain things of the traumatic
Negative thoughts about self or the outside world
Why does it happen?
PTSD develops because the event you experienced was so
distressing and you want to avoid any reminder of it. Your brain doesn’t
process the experience into a memory and that’s why the experience from a past
event becomes a problem in the present. Each time you are reminded of the event
a flashback occurs and the experience is felt all over again. You then do your
utmost to avoid any trigger that may take you back to that moment.
Coping with flashbacks or nightmares
As the brain has not been able to file the event away as memory, any trigger tricks your brain into thinking the event is happening again. You will re-experience the event as happening right now, but there are strategies to help you cope.
Use the discrimination worksheet before a flashback so you are prepared and have something to remind you that the event is not happening again
Set aside a short time (around 15 minutes), to think about the traumatic event and write some notes or draw pictures. Finish with something positive by writing something such as ‘I survived’ or ‘I am in control of my life’.
Remind yourself after the flashback that you are ok and it is normal. The worst is over. It happened in the past, but it is not happening now. You survived the trauma when it was really happening, so you can survive this now.