There is a perception that only military personnel can experience Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PSTD) however it can affect anyone – in the UK 50% of people will experience trauma during their life and 20% of those can go on to develop PTSD. Often clients may feel they are going ‘mad’ because they have no understanding of their symptoms.
‘I managed to survive of I don’t know why I feel like this’.
‘I know I am safe, but I feel scared to go out’.
What can cause PTSD?
There is a wide range of life experience which may lead to PTSD including:
- serious accidents
- being told you have a life-threatening illness
- violent personal assault, such as a physical attack, sexual assault, burglary, robbery
- military combat
- house fires
- natural or man-made disasters
- terrorist attack
- traumatic childbirth (and as a birthing partner)
- prolonged bullying
- childhood neglect
What will I experience?
In most cases, the symptoms develop during the first month after a traumatic event. However, in a minority of cases, there may be a delay of months or even years before symptoms start to appear.
A person involuntarily re-lives the traumatic event in the form of:
- repetitive and distressing images or sensations
- physical sensations – such as pain, sweating, nausea or trembling
- constant negative thoughts about the experience that prevent them from coming to terms with the event.
- Avoidance – trying to avoid being reminded of the traumatic event
- Hyperarousal (feeling ‘on edge’) feeling very anxious and find it difficult to relax.
- angry outbursts
- difficulty concentrating
What is EMDR?
EMDR is an acronym for ‘Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing’. EMDR is a powerful psychological tool used to treat PTSD.
Following a traumatic event flashbacks and nightmares are thought to occur because the mind was simply too overwhelmed during the event to process what was going on.
As a result, these unprocessed memories and the accompanying sights, sounds, thoughts and feelings are stored in the brain in ‘raw’ form. Here, they can be accessed when something in everyday life triggers a recollection of the original event.
While it isn’t possible to erase these memories EMDR can alter the way these traumatic memories are stored within the brain – making them easier to manage.
At Heswall Hills Counselling Centre we have five therapists trained in EMDR who understand how difficult it can be to live with trauma. If you would like support and help in managing your mental health problem, please get in touch.