TRAUMA AND POST TRAUMATIC STRESS DISORDER (PTSD)
Sadly, many of us will experience traumatic events in our lives that are stressful, frightening and distressing. These events may be isolated incidents, or can be more sustained and prolonged, including forms of abuse. For some people, this can cause ongoing distress in the form of flashbacks, nightmares, guilt, anger and irritability or anxiety. You may struggle to concentrate, have difficulties sleeping and feel isolated, disconnected, alone and ashamed. You may also start to avoid people or places that remind you of the traumatic event(s).
This is when we would consider someone to be experiencing something called post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). What we understand about PTSD is that the memories associated with the traumatic memory were not able to be ‘processed’ like a normal memory. As a result, they are ‘stuck’ in the part of the brain associated with fear and leave us in a state of anxiety. The memories will pop up at times that we don’t want them to and we can feel as though we have little control over them, no matter how hard we try to supress them. However, there are specific therapies, such as Trauma Focussed CBT (tfCBT) and Eye Movement Desensitisation Reprocessing (EMDR) that are highly effective in treating these difficulties.
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PTSD can manifest very differently for different people. For some, the symptoms will be present all of the time and for others they will be