PTSD is one of those things that many people may have heard about on the television but they are not really sure what it is all about. Also PTSD is quite a complex experience that may manifest differently for different people to a different degree. There are common symptoms such as nightmares, panic attacks, sudden onset of profound anxiety states, being terrified, profuse crying, screaming, and a feeling of being trapped and in danger, loss of self-control, hallucinations, dizziness, sweating, insomnia, catalepsy, flashbacks of traumatic experiences from the past and immense fear of the future.
In life we experience many terrifying, traumatic and scary things. At the time we may not have the luxury of being able to break down and release what is happening so we have the push these experiences down inside us and carry on with a situation in order to survive. Everything may seem ok, even for many years, but then suddenly a traumatic incident in the present time sparks off all these old memories and feelings of being terrified and in danger.
For years we may not even have been aware of how seriously what happened to us a long time ago affected us but then the trigger incident happens and down come the barriers of all those old fears and terrors – and they all seem to be coming at once. And they overwhelm you, in many cases leading to deep feelings of seeing suicide as a way out to give peace and relief from the symptoms.
PTSD can happen to soldiers when they come back from war, people who were subject to child abuse, to those who have been in a terrible automobile accident, subject to violence, harassment and any situation where the person experiences a deep sense of fear and trauma. Without warning, another traumatic incident can set off the PTSD many years later.
The person re-experiences the earlier trauma again and again inside their head and it haunts, terrifies and overwhelms them. What also may happen is it may break down the coping mechanisms inside the mind that may have protected the person from other dramatic memories and all those memories and trauma can be re-experienced at the same time due to the trigger. The person can be completely overwhelmed and unable to function.
People around you begin to notice you are having very strange behaviours and you start to lock yourself away and do not want to communicate with other people. Some suffers may experience PTSD all day long. Others people are able to contain the PTSD, appearing perfectly normal for parts of the day and then, when they are alone, completely fall to pieces. In some cases the PTSD incidents may be short or they are chronic and constant all day long. Anything above three months is considered a chronic condition and need serious attention.
Some researchers say that if the person gets help within the first three months they have a greater chance of recovery. PTSD changes the brain and the longer you are exposed, the more change happens in the brain and the more depressed the person becomes. What really happens is that the longer the person suffers, the less functional they become and the less they are able to find the help they need.
Now I am going disclose to you that I suffered from PTSD for 10 months. My partner of almost 20 years wanted to change her life, we sold our home and she left me. This break-up was the trigger for me to re-experience horrific child abuse I had experienced up to 50 years earlier. Yes I did experience all of the aforementioned symptoms. As a highly experienced therapist, I had to do a great deal of work on myself to bring myself back to living a calmer, more positive, rewarding life.
I had treated many people with PTSD and never expected to suffer the symptoms myself, but I did and I recovered. It was the most difficult time of my life but I got past it so I believe absolutely and completely that all PTSD can be treated and the person can be helped to recover. Naturally as clinical hypnotherapist I use a great deal of hypnosis in treating PTSD which is very effective.
Dr Tracie O’Keefe DCH, BSc, ND is a clinical hypnotherapist, psychotherapist counsellor, naturopath, and the Director of The Australian Health and Education Centre in Sydney. She has seen over twenty thousand patients face to face over many years and helped many people suffering PTSD and many other traumas.
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