PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder)
What is PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder)?
PTSD, or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, is a condition that can occur following the experience or witnessing of life-threatening events such as military combat, natural disasters, terrorist incidents, serious accidents, or physical or sexual assault. Most survivors of trauma return to normal given a little time. However, around 30% of people will have stress reactions that do not go away on their own or may even get worse over time. These individuals may develop PTSD. People who suffer from PTSD often relive the experience through nightmares and flashbacks, have difficulty sleeping, feel detached from real life and unable to communicate with friends and family. These symptoms can be severe enough to significantly impair the sufferer’s daily life.
Who suffers from PTSD?
Anyone who has witnessed a severe trauma could be susceptible to PTSD and it is estimated that up to one in 10 individuals may be affected by the condition at some stage during their lives. However, some individuals who work within certain professions, and some individuals who exhibit certain risk factors may be more prone to develop the condition than others.
According to some studies the condition is present in approximately one in two female rape victims, one in three teenagers who have survived a car accident, two in three prisoners of war and one in five fire-fighters.
Those who have previously suffered from a mental health condition or who have a family history of mental health concerns are also considered to be at a ‘high risk’ of developing PTSD after being exposed to a harrowing event. It is estimated that up to four in five PTSD sufferers are affected by other mental health problems.
What are the Symptoms of PTSD?
In some individuals, the symptoms will develop very shortly after the event, but for others, the onset may be delayed by a number of months or even years after the trauma first occurred. People with PTSD usually experience three main kinds of symptoms:
1. Reliving the Trauma
The sufferer may feel as though they are reliving the trauma in some way. There are a number of ways in which people may relive trauma. They may have upsetting memories of the traumatic event which can come back at any time, day or night, completely out of the blue. At other times the memories may be triggered by a traumatic reminder. Examples of this may be when a soldier who has returned from combat hears a car backfire, a motor vehicle accident victim drives by a car accident or a rape victim sees a news report of a recent sexual assault. These memories can cause both emotional and physical reactions. Sometimes these memories can feel so real it is as if the event is actually happening again. This is called a “flashback.” Reliving the event may cause intense feelings of fear, helplessness, and horror similar to the feelings they had when the event took place. Many sufferers of PTSD suffer extreme nightmares or night-terrors.
2. Avoidance and Numbing Symptoms
Individuals with PTSD may try to avoid situations that trigger memories of the traumatic event. They may avoid going to places where the trauma occurred or seeing TV programmes or news reports about similar events. They may avoid other sights, sounds, smells, or people that are reminders of the traumatic event. Some people find that they try to distract themselves as a way to avoid thinking about the trauma.
Numbing symptoms are another way to avoid the traumatic event. People with PTSD may find it difficult to be in touch with their feelings or express emotions towards other people. For example, they may feel emotionally “numb” and may isolate from others. They may be less interested in activities they once enjoyed. Some people forget or are unable to talk about, important parts of the event.
3. Arousal Symptoms
People with PTSD may feel constantly alert and anxious after the traumatic event. This is known as increased emotional arousal, and it can cause difficulty sleeping, outbursts of anger or irritability, and difficulty concentrating. They may find that they are constantly ‘on guard’ and on the lookout for signs of danger. They may also find that they get startled very easily. Often, close friends or family members may notice a change in the individual’s personality.
PTSD is complicated by the fact that you may develop additional disorders such as depression, substance abuse, problems of memory and cognition, and other problems of physical and mental health. The disorder is also associated with impairment of the person’s ability to function in social or family life, including occupational instability, marital problems and divorces, family discord, and difficulties in parenting.
Complex PTSD occurs after a person has suffered years of trauma, rather than a one-off event. For example, a child who has spent years being abused by a parent or carer may end up suffering from complex PTSD.
How Does Hypnotherapy Help PTSD?
Hypnotherapy is an extremely kind, gentle and respectful method of treating PTSD. I will make sure you are as relaxed and calm as possible as you imagine observing yourself from a distant or dissociated perspective. There is absolutely no need for you to give details of the trauma or abuse if you don’t want to and you will NOT be asked to relive the traumatic event at any stage.
If appropriate, I often use ‘The Rewind Technique’ to help PTSD sufferers as I believe it is the kindest, quickest and most effective treatment. You can read more about The Rewind Technique HERE. However, an individual treatment plan will be written for you that may involve other interventions.
How Many Sessions Will I Need?
This depends on the complexity and severity of your case as well as how quickly you respond to the therapy as everyone is different. Some people can be treated in just a few sessions, while for others it may take many more. We will begin the first session with a detailed assessment. We'll then work together to come up with a treatment plan that will give us more of an idea of how many sessions you need, ensuring that we work at your own pace.
If you think I may be able to help you with your PTSD symptoms, please contact me today for a free 15-minute telephone or Skype call or to book your initial assessment session.