Causes of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is essentially a memory filing error caused by a traumatic event and can affect anyone who has been exposed to a traumatic event (this can include the trauma happening to you, or being a witness to trauma).
The defining characteristic of a traumatic event is its capacity to provoke fear, helplessness, or horror in response to the threat of injury or death and therefore can affect anyone. Examples of traumatic events include:
- Serious accidents such as road traffic accidents
- Being told you have a life-threatening illness
- Violent personal assault, such as a physical attack, robbery, or mugging
- Medical staff
- Military combat and service
- Abuse, including Childhood and Domestic Abuse
- Emergency Service Workers
- Employment where you repeatedly see distressing images or hear details of traumatic events
- Natural disasters such as flooding or an earthquake
- Terrorist attack
- Being kidnapped or held hostage
- Traumatic childbirth (in people who give birth and birth partners)
- Refugee and asylum seekers
- Miscarriage and ectopic pregnancy
- Sexual Assault or rape
- Prison Employees
- Admission to an Intensive Care Unit
- Any event in which you fear for your life
It’s not clear why some people develop PTSD whilst others who’ve been in a similar situation don’t develop the condition. We do however, know that anyone can develop PTSD, but some people are at greater risk.
Some of the risk factors for developing PTSD include:
- repeated trauma
- lack of support after the trauma
- having had a mental illness in the past
- a history of abuse or trauma in childhood
- the type/severity of the traumatic event
Traumatic events can also cause depression, generalised anxiety, and agoraphobia – and if you experience any symptoms for longer than one month after a traumatic event, it’s important to talk to a doctor or other medical professional as soon as you can.
Treatments for PTSD
It is possible for PTSD to be successfully treated many years after the traumatic event occurred, which means it is never too late to seek help. For some, the first step may be watchful waiting, then exploring therapeutic options such as individual or group therapy – but the main treatment options in the UK are psychological treatments such as Eye Movement Desensitisation Reprogramming (EMDR) and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT).
Traumatic events can be very difficult to come to terms with, but confronting and understanding your feelings and seeking professional help is often the only way of effectively treating PTSD. You can find out more in the links below, or here.
PTSD UK Blog
You’ll find up-to-date news, research and information here along with some great tips to ease your PTSD in our blog.
What is hyperbaric oxygen therapy and how can it help PTSD? Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) involves breathing in pure oxygen in a pressurized chamber, to increase the amount of oxygen circulating in the blood. It works in a similar way
Case Study: EMDR Treatment – Emma After witnessing her husband having a terrifying seizure, Emma was diagnosed with PTSD. She underwent EMDR treatment and in this case study, she explains the process behind her EMDR using ‘tapping’, processing ‘smaller’ memories first,
Grounding Techniques for PTSD & C-PTSD ‘Grounding’ is a practice that can help you pull away from flashbacks, unwanted memories, and negative or challenging emotions. These techniques may help distract you from what you’re experiencing and refocus on what’s happening
Support & information for Friends and Family
When someone you care about suffers from PTSD it affects you too.
The symptoms of PTSD aren’t easy to live with, and the changes in your loved one can be downright terrifying. You may worry that things won’t ever go back to the way they were before. At the same time, you may feel angry about what’s happening to your family, or hurt by your loved one’s distance and new emotions.
Your support can make a huge difference in your friend or family member’s recovery. But as you do your best to care for someone with PTSD, you also need to take care of yourself too.