Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Post-traumatic stress disorder is a type of anxiety disorder that could develop as a response to a traumatic event or a series of traumatic events. Example of traumatic events that could cause PTSD include, traffic accidents, work accidents, natural disasters, abuse (physical or sexual), severe neglect, receiving a diagnosis of life-threatening illness, military combat, threatening work situations (e.g., firefighters, police, A&E stuff), witnessing violent acts or someone else being in danger, or experiencing any other life-threatening situation.

People that are suffering from PTSD often experience vivid flashbacks and/or nightmares, reliving the traumatic event. The PTSD symptoms can become so severe and unpleasant that can significantly affect the sufferer’s day to day functioning and relationships.

Some Common Symptoms of PTSD include:

PTSD Physiological symptoms

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

Psychological symptoms of PTSD

  • 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

PTSD 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 three different types of PTSD:

Single incident PTSD:  could occur as a result of a one-off traumatic event (e.g., road accident, fire, sexual/physical assault). Symptoms often appear soon after the traumatic event.

Complex PTSD: could 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 sufferer can develop PTSD much later in life because of trauma experienced in childhood.

Birth trauma: is referred to PTSD that might occur after giving birth

When to seek help

If you are experiencing most of the above symptoms, therapy / counselling can help. Dr Maria Pournara, Chartered Psychologist, is experienced with treatment of PTSD and can help you.