What is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a particular set of reactions that can develop in people who have been through a traumatic event which threatened their life; safety; or that of others around them.
This could be a car or other serious accident; physical or sexual assault; war or torture; or disasters such as bushfires or floods. As a result, the person experiences feelings of intense fear, helplessness or horror.
What are symptoms of PTSD?
Intrusive flashbacks (reliving a violent scene in your mind)
Nightmares or recurrent bad dreams
Anxiety disorders resulting in chronic physical pain, body tension, teeth grinding
Over-reacting to situations with seemingly little control
Sudden outbursts of rage or temper tantrums. Unexplained fears or phobias, such as a fear of butterflies
Inability to relax the mind and the body
Persistent stress, tension or fears
Inability to concentrate, loss of memory
Another common thread is that certain people or situations may suddenly remind the person of the traumatic event. We call these triggers.
Who develops PTSD?
If you are suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), the first thing you need to understand is that anyone can develop it. It’s beyond your control and has nothing to do with your strength (or lack) of character, determination or inherent capabilities.
PTSD affects people from all walks of life.
Families can be torn apart, drug and alcohol problems can occur, careers are destroyed, and in some cases, people are driven to suicide as a way of stopping the psychological and physical pain and anguish.
Too many people live with PTSD controlling their lives and the lives of their loved ones and never know what is causing the problem!
Post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a very real phenomenon. It’s not a new ‘fad’ or a ‘cosmetic diagnosis’ invented by pharmaceutical companies to push the increased use of medication, or by barristers as an excuse to get people off serious charges in court.
If PTSD is left untreated it can lead to severe consequences including substance abuse, anger management issues loneliness and severe depression.
Although you may have only heard of PTSD relatively recently, it’s a phenomenon that we’ve been aware of and investigating since the late nineteenth century. It was given different names, such as DaCosta’s Syndrome, shell shock, war neurosis, survivor syndrome and several others.
According to the National Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing, anxiety disorders are the biggest mental health condition in this country, with 14.4% of us meeting the diagnostic criteria for having an anxiety disorder, of which PTSD is one. Of that 14.4%, almost half is made up of people meeting the diagnostic criteria for having a diagnosis of post traumatic stress disorder (Australian Bureau of Statistics 2008).
In real terms this means that as a nurse or midwife, you are more likely to be looking after a client with PTSD (6.4%) than you are someone with depression (6.2%) or with a substance use disorder (5.1%). And the reality is, it’s not uncommon for a person with PTSD to also be living with depression, a substance use disorder, or both (Kitchener, Jorm & Kelly 2010).
PTSD is complex. It is a particular set of reactions that can develop in people who have been through a traumatic event which threatened their life or safety, or that of others around them. As a result, the person experiences feelings of intense fear, helplessness or horror.
Anyone can develop PTSD following a traumatic event, but people are at greater risk if the event involved deliberate harm such as physical or sexual assault or they have had repeated traumatic experiences such as childhood sexual abuse or living in a war zone.
Around 12 per cent of Australians will experience PTSD in their lifetime.
Hypnotherapy has emerged as a credible, evidence-based treatment option for sufferers of PTSD. Hypnotherapy works quickly and effectively because it directly accesses the subconscious mind which is where the memory of the trauma is imprinted.
It has long been recognised that people who have been through very traumatic experiences often need help if they are to recover fully. A long-established approach is to get victims to ‘relive’ their trauma, by ‘talking it through’.
And what’s wrong with this? Everything.
Talking about the trauma, even just trying to put what happened into words, can actually worsen a victim’s trauma by re-activating it in the brain, and embedding it deeper.
Dr Noreen Tehrani, an occupational health and counselling psychologist specializing in post traumatic stress, explains what happens:
“If a trauma victim is debriefed in a state of high emotion, the process can increase the arousal to the point of overload, trapping the sensory impressions in the amygdala.”
This is why so called ‘critical incident debriefing’, where disaster survivors are encouraged to ‘talk it out’, can itself be a disaster for the 25% of people who remain severely traumatised after an event.
Getting people to ‘relive’ their trauma is not therapy.
If ‘reliving’ a trauma could heal PTSD, the first real flashback would do the trick
Further refined and promoted widely in recent years by The Human Givens Institute, the Rewind Technique is now a highly effective method of giving a traumatised client an opportunity to review their memories from an entirely disassociated relaxed perspective.
The traumatic event is experienced ‘in reverse’. This is such an unusual way of processing the memory that it has the effect of taking out the fear element.
Nobody has a fear of things that happen in reverse.
If you would like to find out more please contact us for a free, no obligation consultation.