When something awful happens to you it’s normal to feel frightened, sad, anxious and disconnected for a while. You may find yourself having bad dreams and being unable to stop thinking about it when you are trying to relax. But if time goes by and you can’t seem to shake it off, then you may be suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
So, what kind of events might trigger PTSD? Here are some examples:
War – either as a combatant or a civilian
Natural disasters such as floods, tsunamis, earthquakes etc.
Car or plane crashes
Rape, kidnapping or assault
Sexual or physical abuse
But because we are all different, there are many other causes that can lead to this debilitating condition. In fact, anything that makes you feel threatened or helpless. And it’s doesn’t just take hold of people who personally experience the shattering event – it can affect people who witness it, or members of the emergency services who have been called in to deal with it.
This is why the Hillsborough disaster has been so difficult for the loved ones of those who died (and who may have been with them at the football match but survived) and the emergency services who had to deal with the consequences.
So how can you spot whether you, or someone you know, are suffering from PTSD? You may notice some of the following symptoms – but this isn’t an exhaustive list:
Intrusive, upsetting memories of the event and flashbacks
Nightmares or being unable to sleep
Physical reactions to reminders of the event such as aches and pains, panic attacks and nausea
Avoiding places, people, thoughts or feelings that remind you of the trauma
Depression and loss of interest in life and the activities you once enjoyed
Difficulty concentrating and the inability to control irritability and anger
Feeling alienated and alone - suicidal thoughts
These symptoms can arise gradually and come and go over time – and they are different from person to person. The point I’m trying to make here is that however bad the symptoms are there is always hope that they can be alleviated. But before you can start on the path forward you must be able to recognise what is going on and understand what can be done to help. That’s why our OLC introductory course is so helpful. It can’t provide a cure, but it can put you – or the person you are trying to help – on the road to recovery.