What is PTSD?
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder as often referred to as PTSD. The condition was first recognised in war veterans (previously referred to as shell shock) however, about 1 in 3 people suffer from it. PTSD is an anxiety disorder which can arise after experiencing or witnessing a disturbing occurrence such as a serious accident, rape, natural disaster, or other frightening and traumatic incidents.
Experts are not clear why some don’t develop PTSD and others do. Some people who have had a terrifying experience suffer from short-term grief and won’t require counselling although not everyone is as fortunate and many will need professional help. Living with this disorder means quality of life suffers as does relationships with loved ones, co-workers, and friends. Often sufferers of PTSD will not seek the support they need, there are various reasons for this but often sufferers recognise that they are suffering but believe that therapy will force them to relive the trauma from which they are trying to escape. Those suffering with PTSD will have symptoms lasting 30 days or more, in some instances, symptoms last for several months and possibly for years.
In the UK, over 70% of people suffering, live with PTSD with no professional help. Research published in The Lancet (a reknowned medical journal) revealed that of the 2,000+ young men and women (aged 18 years old), 1/3 have had a threatening experience during their childhood leading to ¼ developing PTSD.
As mentioned, many people who struggle with PTSD do not get the help they need and therefore experience flashbacks, isolation, and restlessness. Dr. Tim Dalgleish from the University of Cambridge says that this study should sound the alarm for mental health specialists and law makers and should be a “wake-up call” to recognising the signs of PTSD and providing the help needed.
What causes PTSD?
Although the traumatic events which result in PTSD may vary for each person, there are specific factors which may make a person more likely to experience it. Professionals take into account the experience along with the severity of it and other aspects like the family’s history of mental health conditions, personality or temperament and even the way the brain reacts to stress.
There are many reasons a person may suffer from PTSD. Examples include:
· Military combat or war
· Violent attacks, physical abuse, or sexually assaulted
· Traumatic experience during childbirth
· Witnessing a horrific car or vehicle accident
· Hostage situations or kidnapping
· Experiencing a powerful natural disaster
· Other life threatening scenarios
According to the survey, 12.6% of women between the ages of 16 and 24 were supersensitive to having PTSD yet, only 5.1% of the women have it. Men, ages 55-64, have a higher probability than women to develop PTSD while only 3.7% have it. In addition, “the overall rate of probable PTSD among current and ex-serving military personnel was 6% in 2014-16, compared with 4% in 2004-06.”
Types of PTSD
There are varying different types of PTSD, these categories include:
· Delayed onset – Displaying symptoms six months + after the trauma
· Complex PTSD – Experienced the event early in life or symptoms lasted for several months to years.
· Birth trauma – Developed PTSD after childbirth.
Regardless of the type of PTSD, there are three levels to the disorder: mild, moderate, and severe. The degree explains the impact the condition has on a person.
Many individuals show PTSD symptoms after three months of the event however that’s not to say that everyone will react the same, some display symptoms sooner, some much, much later. Small children and teenagers are not immune to having the disorder but their symptoms may not be the same as adults and they may exhibit signs of destructive behaviour.
After trauma, some people experience avoidance or detachment from people, places, and situations. They may behave recklessly or in a self-destructive manner. They may also have numbing, nightmares, involuntary memories or flashbacks, and hypervigilance.
You may have suffered a similar trauma to someone else, but it could affect you and them differently. Some people may feel sad, fear, guilt, shame or angry. It’s not uncommon for sufferers to have adverse reactions to something as common as loud sounds such as construction noises or to the human touch.
Many people in the UK are living with PTSD. It is essential to reach out to these people as those living with PTSD as it can often be debilitating, isolating sufferers from friends, family or social aspects of their life. It’s vitally important to raise awareness of this and all mental illnesses to stress the importance that it is ok not to be ok and to encourage those who as suffering to reach out.
If you or someone you know are suffering with PTSD and you need someone to talk to, please contact one of these helplines below:
SANEline is a national out-of-hours mental health helpline offering specialist emotional support, guidance and information to anyone affected by mental illness, including family, friends and carers. Open every day of the year from 4.30pm to 10.30pm on 0300 304 7000.
0300 302 0551 – ptsdresolution.org – Helps veterans, reservists and their families with trauma and distress.
Call from any phone FREE – 116 123
Or for further information on PTSD or support helplines: