Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental health issue that can develop after a person is exposed to a traumatic event, such as sexual assault, warfare, traffic collisions, or other threats on a person's life.
Diagnosis is based on the presence of specific symptoms following a traumatic event. These include hyperarousal, avoidance and intrusive thoughts.
PTSD can occur from a single event trauma (i.e. assault) or as a result of a number of traumas (i.e. childhood sexual abuse).
Main symptoms include:
- Unwanted thoughts, images of the traumatic event
- Nightmares and/or flashbacks
- High levels of anxiety
- Negative views of self
- Exaggerated blame of self or others for causing the trauma
- Decreased interest in activities
- Feeling isolated
- Sleep difficulties
- Avoidance of anything that reminds you of the traumatic incident
Eye Movement Desentisation Reprocessing (EMDR) and trauma fcoussed CBT are the recommended treatments for PTSD. These should only be carried out by a qualified practitioner. Patients need to have a thorough assessment and be stabilised before any trauma focussed work is to be completed.