PTSD is an anxiety disorder that may develop in the wake of an event that is either experienced or witnessed and involves an actual or perceived threat to life or physical integrity. This can be to themselves or others.

Furthermore, the person’s emotional reaction to the event is either horror, terror or helplessness.

Symptoms of PTSD are common after trauma, for most people the intensity and frequency of symptoms decrease over time. But for some PTSD symptoms persist become chronic and impact daily functioning.

Signs and symptoms of PTSD

3 clusters of symptoms characterise PTSD 

  1. Re-experiencing – the traumatic event is persistently re-experienced in one of more of the following ways:
  • Recurrent and intrusive distressing recollections of the event – images, thoughts, perceptions
  • Recurrent distressing dreams – nightmares
  • Acting or feeling as if the trauma is happening again – illusions, hallucinations, dissociative flashbacks – completely taken back to that event.
  • Intense psychological distress and physical sensations at exposure to internal or external cues that are reminders
  1. Avoidance
  • Efforts to avoid thoughts, feelings or conversations associated with the trauma
  • Avoid activities, places or people that arouse recollections of the trauma
  • Inability to recall important aspects
  • Not interested in participating in significant activities
  • Feelings of detachment or estrangement from others
  • Unable to have loving feelings
  • Sense of foreshortened future – does not expect to have a future, career, normal life span – despite being safe
  1. Hyperarousal
  • Difficulty falling or staying asleep
  • Irritability or outbursts of anger
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Hypervigilance – on edge constantly
  • Exaggerated startle response – activation of flight or flight when safe

Support available: 

PTSD symptoms are normal straight after an event and for most these symptoms reduce over time. However, when symptoms don’t subside 1-3 months after a traumatic event, it’s likely that these symptoms won’t go away without treatment. PTSD can be successfully treated, even when it develops many years after a traumatic event.

PTSD be treated via psychological therapies. Visit our service lookup here to see if we deliver a talking therapy service in your local area. Alternatively, you can visit the NHS website here and enter your postcode to find your local service. 

PTSD UK is a UK charity dedicated to raising awareness of post-traumatic stress disorder. Their website contains information about the disorder and the treatment options available.

There are also support groups that support individuals who struggle with specific traumas. Examples include:

  • Birth Trauma Association (for people affected by birth trauma)
  • Combat Stress (for serving personnel and veterans)
  • Disaster Action (for people impacted by major disasters)
  • Freedom from Torture
  • Help for Adult Victims of Child Abuse (HAVOCA)
  • LifeCentre (for victims of sexual abuse)
  • RoadPeace (for those bereaved or seriously injured by a road traffic incident)
  • Victim Support (for victims of crime or traumatic events)