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Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

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Once called ‘Battle fatigue syndrome’ or ‘shell shock’, PTSD is an anxiety reaction to a traumatic event that can occur at any age. A traumatic event is one where we are in a life-threatening situation, or where we witness other’s dying or being injured i.e.


• Serious accidents
• Military combat
• Violent personal assault
• Terrorist attack
• Natural / man-made disasters
• Being taken hostage
• Being a prisoner-of-war
• Being diagnosed with a life-threatening illness.

PTSD can start immediately after the event or after a delay of weeks or months.

Symptoms of PTSD

Flashbacks and nightmares
Flashbacks to the event occur during waking periods, whereas nightmares are when you are asleep. Both can appear so realistic that you ‘re-live’ the experience, which triggers the same emotions and physical sensations of what occurred.


Flashbacks can be triggered by every day situations / items.


Avoidance & numbing
Avoid people so that you don’t have to talk about the experience. Avoiding places that remind you of the trauma. Busying yourself with work / hobbies etc to stop yourself from thinking about the trauma.


Numbing by way of breaking emotional links with people, trying to feel ‘nothing at all’ rather than the emotions associated with the trauma.


Being ‘on guard’.
You’re constantly on alert and looking out for danger. You are unable to relax. You are anxious and find it difficult to sleep. You will be jumpy and irritable.


Other symptoms can include:


Physical Manifestations
• Muscle aches / pains
• Diarrhoea
• Irregular heartbeats
• Headaches


Psychological Manifestations
• Feelings of panic and fear
• Depression


Behavioural Manifestations
• Drinking alcohol excessively
• Using drugs (including over the counter painkillers) to excess.


Treatment and Prognosis

As PTSD is both a physical and psychological condition the treatments are both physical and psychological. Treatments include:


Psychotherapy
Learning to think differently.

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)
A talking therapy to change extreme ways of thinking.

Eye Movement Desensitisation & Reprocessing (EMDR)
Uses eye movements to process flashbacks and make sense of the trauma.

Group Therapy

Medication
SSRI antidepressants to treat any depression that is present to enable the underlying PTSD to be successfully treated.

The severity of the trauma and the length of time an individual has suffered from PTSD have an impact on prognosis. Many people will recover from PTSD, however the quicker treatment is initiated the more likely recovery is to be successful. For those that do not respond to treatment, PTSD can become a chronic psychiatric disorder that can persist for decades, and occasionally for life.

For appointments at all locations contact Carole on: 0203 633 0011

Weekend / early-morning consultations are available.

  • London Medical Centre
    142 – 146 Harley Street,
    London, W1G 7LD
  • Spire Bushey Hospital
    Heathbourne Road, Bushey,
    Watford, Herts WD23 1RD
  • Nightingale Hospital
    11 – 19 Lisson Grove,
    Marylebone, NW1 6SH
  • Out of hours emergency contact: 07446 423074

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