PTSD: everything you need to know - The Indigo Project

PTSD: everything you need to know

We all hear a lot about PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) but the condition is a little more complex than most of us are led to believe. While it never feels good to have strong reactions to trauma, it’s important to remember that we are human – and this is natural. In fact, research shows that 5-10% of Aussies will suffer from PTSD at some point in their lives.

Luckily there’s a range of effective ways to treat PTSD, but first, let’s learn a little more about it.

What is PTSD?

Post-traumatic stress disorder is regarded as a group of stress reactions that can manifest in our bodies and minds after we experience or witness a traumatic event.

It may crop up immediately after the event, or it may start to weasel its way into your world weeks or even months after the event occurred. Most commonly, the symptoms arise within the first six months after a traumatic event.

post-traumatic stress disorder

What causes PTSD?

Before we dive into the nitty gritty of PTSD, it’s important to note that everyone experiences trauma differently. Our experiences aren’t linear, and therefore it’s important to know there is not always a clear-cut link between the ‘seriousness’ of a traumatic event and the effect it has on an individual down the line.

Where one particular experience may traumatise an individual to the moon and back, their neighbour might bounce back quickly. Traumatic events can affect our belief that life is fair, safe and secure – and in light of that, there’s no cookie-cutter definition for what is considered a traumatic event.

You can develop PTSD after experiencing anything you may find traumatic. This includes seeing, hearing or experiencing.

Some examples of traumatic experiences include:

  • Serious accidents
  • Physical, emotional or sexual abuse
  • Race-based trauma
  • Work-related trauma
  • Trauma relating to serious health issues

When is PTSD more likely to manifest?

Not everyone develops PTSD after a traumatic event – the risk of developing this complex condition comes down to how the experience affects you. You’re more likely to experience PTSD if the event:

  • Is unexpected
  • Is ongoing
  • Involves being trapped or stuck
  • Is caused by others
  • Causes many deaths
  • Involves a perceived threat in your life
  • Involves violence or mutilation
  • Involves children

Is everyone susceptible to PTSD?

While everyone is at risk of developing PTSD after a traumatic event, you’re more likely to feel it if you have experienced depression or anxiety in the past.

What does PTSD look like?

Here’s where things get a little fuzzy: there can be lots and lots of symptoms, because everybody’s stress response plays out differently.

The most common symptoms or behaviours associated with PTSD include:

  • Reliving the experience through flashbacks, intrusive thoughts or nightmares
  • Not being able to feel emotions
  • Overwhelming emotions
  • Dissociation, which can make you feel disconnected from yourself and the people around you
  • Avoidance, which can manifest into distraction to avoid thinking about the trauma

You might also experience:

  • Negative moods and thinking patterns
  • Difficulty controlling your emotions
  • Feelings of anger, panic and anxiety
  • Difficulty in enjoying pleasure
  • A sense of guilt or shame
  • A negative self-perception
  • Problems with relationships, friendship and colleagues
  • Problems with sleeping
  • Issues with concentrating
  • Self-destructive behaviour
  • A constant feeling of being in danger

How can I get help with PTSD?

The support you’ll need depends completely on the severity and duration of your symptoms. For folk who feel shaken immediately after a traumatic event, it’s important to note that most people will recover with gentle care and love from their family and friends. Help from your community can greatly buffer the effects of PTSD, especially in the first two weeks of your recovery.

However, if a couple of weeks go by and you’re feeling very distressed, it might be time to contact a professional. There’s a range of brilliant and effective treatments for PTSD, including eye movement desensitisation and reprocessing (EMDR), cognitive behaviour therapy, behaviour therapy and antidepressants (for severe PTSD).

Here at the Indigo Project, we’re dedicated to making your healing journey as seamless as possible. We’re home to a bunch of brilliant minds, and have a wide range of support and tools to get you feeling yourself again.

Get in touch with our team and begin your online counselling or therapy journey with one of our trauma psychologists today.

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