Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a condition that can occur after witnessing or having been involved in a traumatic event. When something happens or we see something happening that causes an intense level of stress, it is called a traumatic event. It may makes us feel a sense of horror, helplessness, we may face serious injury, or experience the threat of serious injury or death. It may be that a person is directly involved in the event or been a witness to that event. Traumatic events affect survivors, rescue workers, and the friends and relatives of the victims who have been involved.


Not everyone will develop PTSD after a traumatic event, but many will experience some symptoms in the short term. 1 in 3 people will experience continued symptoms and this is usually when a diagnosis of PTSD is often given.


What is PTSD?


PTSD is an intense is an intense physical and emotional response to thoughts and reminders of the event that last for many weeks months and sometimes years after the traumatic event. Symptoms may occur immediately following the traumatic event, but sometimes, symptoms may be delayed by weeks, months and sometimes even years. In PTSD, symptoms can reduce and sometimes disappear giving a false sense of security, further fear and disappointment to the sufferer.


The symptoms of PTSD fall into three main categories:


  • Reliving: This can include flashbacks or nightmares that can seem so real that you actually feel as if you reliving the event again and can be extremely distressing. You experience the event in your mind, but you may also experience the physical and emotional sensations associated with the event such as a smell, pain or the fear associated with the experience.
  • Emotional responses: You may experience feelings such as guilt, shame, extreme fear of harm and numbing of emotions.
  • Physical responses: These responses may include uncontrollable shaking, heart racing, tension headaches or chills.


  • Symptoms of avoidance: This may include staying away from activities, places, thoughts or feelings related to the traumatic event in an effort to avoid reliving the experience and the feelings associated with this again. You may distract yourself or feel detached or estranged from others.


  • Increased arousal: This may include being overly alert or easily startled. You may be constantly 'on your guard', not being able to relax and your may be on the look out for danger. You may experience difficulties sleeping and others may notice that you are irritable or jumpy.


Other Symptoms include:


  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Phobias
  • Increased use or misuse of Substances and/or alcohol
  • Symptoms such as chest pain, stomach upset, sweating and dizziness
  • Difficulties expressing affection
  • Difficulties being intimate
  • Difficulties focusing on daily tasks
  • Problems trusting other people


How can counselling help?


Speaking with a counsellor can often help people overcome the persistent painful feelings and anxieties that often follow a traumatic experience. It can help you talk through the event and support you in finding strategies to deal with it. Cognitive behavioural therapy can also help you learn skills to change your thoughts, feelings and negative thought processes you may have developed as a result of the traumatic event.


We understand that those suffering from the aftermath of a traumatic experience can be difficult and extremely difficult to deal with. We are committed to offering a space for you to share your experiences and your feelings in a way that is safe, confidential and non-judgemental. We handle all our clients and their feelings and experiences with great sensitively and care.