Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

PTSD refers to a disorder that may develop if a person experiences a violent and traumatic event, such as serious injury, the danger of death or witnessing the real death of another in an accident, such as in a serious road traffic accident.

Over half of all people will experience a traumatic event during their lifetime but many suffer a series of them; these people are more likely to develop PTSD.

If the disorder is not an immediate result of the accident, it may still be attributed to it if the development of the disorder can be traced directly back to the accident and the effects of it.

The Symptoms Of PTSD

The characteristics of PTSD are not present prior to a person experiencing the violent and traumatic event that causes the disorder.

PTSD is generally characterised by invasive, irrepressible and persistent nightmares and flashbacks of a traumatic event. In addition to this there is usually a determined evasion of all conversation, thoughts and emotions related to the traumatic event.

If PTSD symptoms last for longer than one month, a person will be diagnosed with PTSD. It is classified as ‘acute’ if it lasts for less than three months and ‘chronic’ if it lasts longer than three months. PTSD is considered as ‘delayed onset’ PTSD if the disorder emerges after more than six months afterthe traumatic accident occurring.

The Causes Of PTSD

PTSD can be triggered by any kind of event that is considered traumatic and violent to the person witnessing or experiencing the event, suh as an accident at work or on the roads.

During the traumatic accident, a PTSD sufferer would have experienced death or serious injury to another person, serious injury to themselves or such a great threat to their life or the life of another that they would have felt extreme fear and helplessness.

Typically, people that suffer from PTSD include those who have been involved in a serious accident on the road or at work, those that have fought or are fighting in the military, victims of or witnesses to violent crime and those that have been bullied in a violent or threatening manner, consisting of assaults or mentally abusive behaviour.

Treatment

Medication

No medication is prescribed by medical professionals for PTSD as it is not conclusive that any medication can prevent or eliminate the disorder; therefore, medication treatments are given on a case-by-case basis.

However, although not decisively established by medical studies, some have suggested that administering hydrocortisone within a few hours of a traumatic event can reduce the chances of a person suffering from PTSD.

SSRI’s are often used to improve a person’s mood in the hope that this will mean that they are less likely to experience the often debilitating feelings associated with PTSD. This is not effective for all people with PTSD but it is a simple and efficient way of treating them in the first instance that often produces positive results.

Psychotherapy

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is a useful treatment for PTSD. CBT generally targets those with or at risk of PTSD. It aims to discover how an individual’s thought processes affect their actions and the way their actions affect their thought processes. By targeting thought processes and actions that reinforce them, negativity in their thinking can be reduced while positive thoughts are encouraged. This can help a person to control or even move past PTSD.

Many other types of psychotherapy may be useful as a treatment for PTSD, including interpersonal therapy and social skills training that help with dealing with the disorder in social situations.

Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing (EMDR)

This form of therapy is based on scientific evidence that eye movement contributes to memory recall. When eye movement is rapid, the recall of disturbing memories is more likely, so deliberately controlling and slowing eye movement can help reduce the frequency and intensity of the memories.

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