PTSD Awareness Month

June is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) awareness month. PTSD is not something that only the armed forces suffer from. Anyone can suffer with it following a traumatic event. Research suggests that around 8% of the population will experience PTSD in their lifetimes. It’s not a new thing, but the term is relatively modern. In the first half of the 20th century PTSD is known as ‘Shell Shock’ or ‘Battle Fatigue’.

So what sort of trauma can cause PTSD? Well, virtually any form of trauma can cause it. It’s not just life-threatening situations like wars, natural disasters or physical assault. Non-life-threatening events such as divorce, abrupt relocation and financial problems can also cause it.

Typical symptoms include flash backs, depression, anxiety, nightmares, insomnia, and disturbing thoughts. In extreme cases the sufferer may have episodes where they are not fully aware or conscious of what’s really happening. For some these symptoms may last a few days or weeks. But for others the effects can last much, much longer and may require treatment.

Other symptoms of trauma can have a massive impact on our lives. These symptoms can include adverse physical reactions if reminded of the event such as heart racing, increased breathing and sweating. Others reactions can include increased safe keeping behaviours such as avoidance or hypervigilance, becoming detached from life, being demotivated, angry outbursts and feeling vulnerable. I think Jane Leavy (American biographer and author) put it quite well when she said, “Trauma fractures comprehension as a pebble shatters a windshield. The wound at the site of impact spreads across the field of vision, obscuring reality and challenging belief”.

Luckily, PTSD is highly treatable, but as with many mental disorders there can be a stigma attached to it. So, seeking help is the first and most important step on the road to recovery. There is no shame in doing so. Being open and talking about PTSD will increase awareness and mean that more people will seek treatment for it.

The goal of therapy is for the sufferer to be able to remember the trauma without reliving it or it effecting their behaviour. We are all different and so process trauma differently. Asking for help is not a weakness.

So, if you or someone you know might have PTSD, there are ways to get help. PTSD UK is a charity in the UK dedicated to raising awareness of post-traumatic stress disorder. Their website has some useful advice and resources.

There are specific techniques that can be used in Hypnotherapy to help you process and healthily work through past traumas and overcome PTSD. If you would like to discuss these further, please get in touch.

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