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PTSD, otherwise known as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, is a type of anxiety disorder. It commonly involves reliving traumatic events in the form of flashbacks, although this may not be true for everybody.

The causes of PTSD are understood to be experiencing or witnessing trauma or life changing or threatening events. These are varied but may include things like being a soldier in war, car crashes, sexual abuse, terrorist attacks, extreme bullying or physical abuse but can be anything which has a significant negative impact on your life.

The symptoms of PTSD may include:

  • Nightmares
  • Flashbacks
  • Feelings of pain or discomfort
  • Feeling unsafe
  • Inability to trust anybody around you
  • Self blame
  • Feeling emotionally or physically detached from yourself
  • Overwhelming emotions like anger or sadness
  • Distressing images or feelings in your head
  • Feeling like nobody understands

Getting a diagnosis of PTSD will start with your primary care doctor. They may ask you questions about whether you’ve ever been involved in a traumatic event and if you are experiencing symptoms since then. If these symptoms have been going on for less than 4 weeks your GP may advise just keeping an eye on them. However, if they are long term symptoms you may get a referral to a specialist team for a diagnosis and to seek treatment.

Treatment for PTSD will usually involve forms of talking therapies aimed at traumatic events. The two most common are trauma focused Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and Eye Movement Desensitisation and Refocusing. Medication will usually only be prescribed if you are experiencing other symptoms such as poor sleep or depression. There are also usually local support groups with others experiencing the same problems. Peer support and the support of your family and friends is important to help you work on good self-care to reduce your symptoms and manage your illness.

If you have concerns that you or anybody close to you is experiencing these symptoms then you should seek support from the primary care doctor. They can put you in touch with the right teams for your diagnosis or treatment. If you fear that you or somebody else is in immediate danger please visit your local emergency centre for support.