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Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

August 28, 2015

As the end of the month fast approaches I wanted to make you aware that August is Road Traffic Awareness Month and discuss a difficulty that sometimes arises following a road traffic accident.  The symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) have a significant impact on people’s day to day lives and can occur when an individual experiences a traumatic event.



Symptoms of PTSD usually develop within a month of the traumatic incident; however they can occur after a delay of months or years.  It is normal for people to experience some symptoms following a traumatic event such as a road traffic accident, such as distress, flashbacks, and nightmares, however in many people these symptoms will reduce over a few weeks.


The symptoms of PTSD can wax and wane over time if left untreated and some people find that their PTSD is worse at some times than others.  Other people find that their symptoms are constant and of the same intensity.


People experience a variety of different symptoms and experience these in different intensities in PTSD, however generally symptoms can be divided into three areas.


  •  Re-experiencing

The first symptom of PTSD is the re-experiencing of the traumatic event through flashbacks, nightmares, intrusive images or sensations.


Re-experiences such as flashbacks and intrusive sensations can be visual, smell, taste, hearing, touch or any combination of the senses.  We can also think about the experience repeatedly, with frequent or constant negative thoughts “Why did it happen to me?”, “Could I have done anything to stop it?” and “It’s my fault” which can result in feelings of shame and guilt.



  • Avoidance and Emotional Numbing

Some people with symptoms of PTSD will try to block out their feelings and feel nothing at all.  People can become isolated, withdrawn, and stop doing things they enjoy or find pleasure in, otherwise known as emotional numbing.


People can also try and block out memories and reminders of the trauma, for example avoiding certain places or people.  A further element of PTSD is when people avoid memories of the trauma by attempting to push the memories out of their mind or use distraction to avoid thinking about it.


  • Hyperarousal, Feeling on Edge and Anxious

Another symptom of PTSD is feeling very on edge, finding it difficult to relax and feeling highly anxious.  People become hyper-aware of threats and can be jumpy and easily startled.  This often results in irritability, anger, anxiety, difficulty sleeping and poor concentration.



Prolonged PTSD can also impact on other problems and difficulties.  These include depression, anxiety and phobias.  People can also use drugs and alcohol to try and deal with the symptoms of PTSD which can further compound their difficulties.


Most people experience a variety of these symptoms following a traumatic experience, however in many cases these symptoms will reduce over a few weeks.  If you’ve been experiencing these symptoms for around three months or more, you could be experiencing Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.


If you have any questions or would like to talk to someone about how you’re feeling and the treatment of PTSD, please feel free to get in touch.




Overview of the Symptoms of PTSD

  • Symptoms must occur for around three months or more following the traumatic event.

  • Symptoms can wax and wane throughout time.

  • Re-experiencing the traumatic event through flashbacks, nightmares, intrusive images or intrusive sensations.

  • Intrusions can be through sight, smell, taste, hearing, touch or any combination of the senses.

  • Negative thoughts which lead to shame and guilt.

  • Avoidance of feelings, memories and reminders of the traumatic event.

  • Avoidance of triggers often leads to isolation and a reduction of pleasurable activities.

  • Feeling on edge, difficulty concentrating and difficulty relaxing.

  • Hyper vigilant to threat, jumpy and easily startled.

  • Irritability, anger, anxiety, and difficulty sleeping.



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