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Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder {PTSD} refers to a mental illness experienced after a traumatic event or experience in a person’s life.

The event may have been a single incident, such as witnessing or being a victim of a bomb attack or shooting, or may be a number of incidents over a period of time such as slavery, torture or abuse.

Any traumatic event can have an impact for a period of time after the event has occurred. This is a perfectly normal response.

However, when this has not reduced after a while and still causes the same level of distress as was first experienced, then this may suggest the individual is experiencing PTSD.

Symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Generally symptoms begin within six months of the trauma, and these may include:

  • Experiencing flashbacks in which the memory is replayed
  • Feeling like the traumatic event is happening again
  • Being hyper-alert and constantly looking for danger
  • An inability to relax
  • Becoming emotionally numb
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Avoiding anything that reminds the individual of the trauma
  • Suicidal thoughts

Causes of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Each of us will find different experiences traumatic and what one person might not find traumatic could have a major effect on another and result in PTSD.

Examples of traumatic events may include:

  • Witnessing a death: accident, serious injury or murder
  • Natural or global disasters: flooding, earthquakes or a pandemic
  • Near-death experience
  • Bereavement
  • Being a victim of or witnessing rape or a sexual assault
  • Being kidnapped or held hostage

Treatment and support for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

The most common treatments for PTSD include:

There is no specific medication that is recommended to treat PTSD, although medication may be prescribed to treat other illnesses such as depression or severe anxiety which an individual may also be prescribed.

Self-Help Tips

As well as this there are things you can do to take care of yourself and improve your wellbeing. These include:

  • Monitoring your mood and triggers
  • Making time for yourself
  • Taking up a hobby
  • Developing a routine
  • Reducing drug and alcohol use
  • Trying mindfulness, relaxation or yoga
  • Eating a balanced diet
  • Exercising regularly
  • Attending local support groups

Finding a service for you

You can locate details of the Extern's mental health services which may be near you here.