It is natural to feel afraid during and after a traumatic situation. Fear triggers many split-second changes in the body to help defend against danger or to avoid it. Nearly everyone will experience a range of reactions after trauma, yet most people recover from initial symptoms naturally.
Those who continue to experience problems may be diagnosed with PTSD. People who have PTSD may feel stressed or frightened even when they are not in danger.
It's normal to feel on edge, have trouble sleeping, have upsetting memories replaying on your brain and other symptoms after this type of event. At first, it may be hard to do normal daily activities, like spending time with people you care about, working or leaving the house. But most people start to feel better after a few weeks or months. If it's been longer than a few months and you're still having symptoms, you may have PTSD. For some people, PTSD symptoms may start later on, or they may come and go over time.
Symptoms of PTSD include:
- Avoiding situations that remind you of the event, for example, if you were involved in a terrorist attack in a music venue, you may avoid music venues and the specific place that it happened, as this will trigger memories of the event.
- Reliving the event in your head, a flashback.
- Feeling low because of what has happened.
- Always being alert and looking for danger.
- Feelings of hopelessness, shame, or despair.
- Depression or anxiety.
- Drinking or drug problems.
- Physical symptoms or chronic pain.
- Employment problems.
- Relationship problems, including divorce.
- There are obviously more symptoms than this but this was just a list of a few.
Other things that could increase someones chance of developing PTSD are having a very intense or long-lasting traumatic event or getting injured during the event can make it more likely that a person will develop PTSD.
There are 2 main treatments for PTSD which includes:
- Psychotherapy/counselling: like cognitive processing therapy, prolonged exposure therapy and trauma focused psychotherapy.
- Talk with your doctor about treatment options.
- Engage in mild physical activity or exercise to help reduce stress.
- Set realistic goals for yourself.
- Break up large tasks into small ones, set some priorities, and do what you can as you can.
- Try to spend time with other people, and confide in a trusted friend or relative. Tell others about things that may trigger symptoms.
- Expect your symptoms to improve gradually, not immediately.
- Identify and seek out comforting situations, places, and people.