Posttraumatic Stress

Posttraumatic Stress


If we go through a particularly traumatic and harrowing event, it is not uncommon to experience high levels of worry and anxiety afterwards. However, when these anxieties continue for a significant period of time, posttraumatic stress may be the cause. If posttraumatic stress is an issue for you, and is causing you problems in everyday life, help is out there.

Sadly, some of us do experience traumatising and terrifying events during our lives. Many people are resilient to this, and do not experience on going psychological effects. Others will experience anxieties for a short period after the event, but they will begin to recover over time. For a few of us though, long term problems are experienced, in which case posttraumatic stress can be diagnosed. Posttraumatic stress is a form of anxiety, and can be caused by many different events. For example, one-off accidents, violence or sexual abuse over a period of time, being held in captivity, a serious injury, and being threatened with death; any harrowing event can cause posttraumatic stress. This condition can be very harmful to us and support may be needed to overcome the problems.

How Posttraumatic Stress Can Harm Us

Posttraumatic stress often involves reliving the trigger. This can happen in the form of flashbacks, nightmares, or simply playing the events over and over again in our minds. This is dangerous because we can become obsessed by what happened and the event begins to define us. In other cases, people completely blank out what happened, and often have difficulty talking about the issue. This is equally as harmful because, if people cannot discuss the event, they will bottle up their emotions instead of overcoming them. They might also try to avoid any objects, situations or people that trigger memories about the event. People suffering from posttraumatic stress can feel unusually high levels of anxiety and worry, and also low self-esteem. Victims may become depressed because of the fear that they are incapable of recovery and because they are unsure if their lives will ever be the same again. Posttraumatic stress sufferers might feel as though they deserved what happened to them, guilty and ashamed. This is particularly true in cases of sexual abuse. It may become impossible for posttraumatic stress victims to work, because they are too anxious and live in fear of a repeat event occurring. People with posttraumatic stress often see no way out, and can consider extreme measures such as self-harm and suicide. The harm that posttraumatic stress can cause is serious and help should be sought if this condition could be affecting you.

Effects of Posttraumatic Stress on Other Relationships

Posttraumatic stress can make us feel very alone, and as though no one else could understand. This has a significant impact on our relationships. Posttraumatic stress can be related to a single event. Therefore, someone could be positive and healthy one day, and the next be developing posttraumatic stress. Sudden changes in temperament and attitude can be very confusing for friends and family, particularly if the victim feels unable to share what they have experienced with others. Perhaps the anxieties are so high that it becomes impossible to maintain a normal social life, in which case external relationships are damaged. If the event was related to the actions of another human being, it is not unusual for victims to develop serious trust issues. This can make maintaining friendships challenging and meeting new people very stressful. People with posttraumatic stress sometimes withdraw from social life because they do not want to face questions about what happened or sympathy. However, this is unhealthy and can cause further issues such as agoraphobia. It is important to remember that talking to someone can help to relieve our anxieties and fears. Having an active social life is important, but it is understandable if you do not feel able to discuss the issues with friends and family initially.

How Therapy Can Help

We all need support at various times in our lives, and this is nothing to be ashamed of. Therapy can offer an impartial and understanding place to talk over what has happened. Even if you have made a full physical recovery, the psychological issues may be on going. If symptoms continue for one month after the event, it is definitely worth seeking help. This means whether the event is recent and you have noticed a dramatic change in your moods, or if the event took place many years ago and you have been living with long term psychological issues. Therapy can aid you in regaining confidence and control over your life. Feelings of anxiety and stress will begin to dissipate. It may take just a few sessions, or you may need a more lengthy recovery time. Either way, if you speak to a counsellor or therapist about your difficulties you will be on the right track.

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