Post-traumatic stress disorder

Any of us can have an experience that is overwhelming, frightening, and beyond our control. For example, we could find ourselves in a car crash, be the victim of an assault, or see an accident. Most people, in time, recover from experiences like these without needing help. In some people though, traumatic experiences can trigger a response that does not diminish over time.

There are three main types of symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD):

  1. Flashbacks and nightmares – You find yourself re-living the event, again and again. This can happen both as a ‘flashback’ in the day and as nightmares when you are asleep. Ordinary things can trigger off flashbacks.
  2. Avoidance and numbing – It can be just too upsetting to re-live your experience over and over again. So you distract yourself. You keep your mind busy by losing yourself in a hobby, working very hard, or spending your time absorbed in crosswords or jigsaw puzzles. You avoid places and people that remind you of the trauma and try not to talk about it.
  3. Being ‘on guard’ – You find that you stay alert all the time as if you are looking out for danger. You can’t relax. This is called ‘hypervigilance’. You feel anxious and find it hard to sleep.


If you think that you might have post traumatic stress disorder and you would like to be referred to IAPT click here.