Generic selectors
Exact matches only
Search in title
Search in content
Post Type Selectors
Our Clinicians
Expert Talks

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

By Stephanie C.

People who have experienced – or even witnessed – a traumatic incident may suffer from psychological difficulties well after the fact.

Traumatic events may include (from

  • natural disasters
  • serious accidents, including car accidents
  • war/combat
  • personal attacks such as rape or physical assault
  • exposure to traumatic events at work or school
  • abuse, including childhood or domestic abuse
  • bullying and cyberbullying
  • animal attacks, such as dog bites
  • difficult childbirth experiences

When people continue to experience the ongoing of effects of trauma, they may be diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

People of all ages can have PTSD, including children.

Signs and Symptoms of PTSD

Identifying and treating the disorder as soon as possible is important. Some PTSD symptoms may subside over time by themselves. But many people with PTSD find their lives disrupted by the symptoms, and require intervention.

According to the Mayo Clinic, PTSD symptoms are grouped into four types: intrusive memories, avoidance, negative changes in thinking and mood, and changes in physical and emotional reactions.

Intrusive Memories may include:

  • Flashbacks, reliving the event as though it was happening again
  • Nightmares and upsetting waking dreams about the event
  • Severe emotional of physical reactions anything that reminds the individual of the traumatic event

Avoidance may include:

  • Avoiding thinking or talking about the event
  • Avoiding people, places, activities and other reminders of the event
  • Isolation from others

Negative Changes may include:

  • Memory problems, including remembering the traumatic event clearly
  • Short-term memory problems
  • Low self-confidence and self-blame, depression
  • Negative thoughts about others
  • Feeling detached from family and friends
  • Emotional numbness

Changes in Physical and Emotional Reactions may include:

  • Sleep disturbances
  • Exaggerated startle response, jumpy and easily frightened
  • Irritability, angry outbursts or aggressive behavior
  • Panic attacks
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Overwhelming guilt and shame
  • Excess worry, including social anxiety
  • Self-destructive behavior

Children with PTSD may re-enact the traumatic event, or some aspect of the traumatic event, through play or art making. They may also have stomach aches and headaches, and may exhibit regressive behavior, such as bedwetting and thumb-sucking.

Treatment for PTSD

PTSD is treatable, and requires time and commitment to be effective. Early diagnosis and intervention are important. If you suspect you or your child has PTSD, seek help immediately.

Treatment paths include:

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is talk therapy that focuses on identifying and changing negative thinking patterns and behaviours associated with the trauma.

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is a treatment that utilises directed eye movement or other “side-to-side” stimulation to help the brain reprocess and dampen memories from a traumatic experience.

Medication that treats symptoms of depression and anxiety can be helpful to individuals with PTSD. They are used in conjunction with CBT or other forms of psychological therapy.

If you or you child has symptoms of PTSD, contact the BFDC. We can help.