Trauma and Post-Traumatic Stress Reactions

I provide expert trauma counselling in a safe and supportive environment for people who have been traumatised.

Childhood and Adult Trauma

Childhood Trauma should not be minimised as infants and young children are most vulnerable to the effects of trauma and require treatment.

A parent’s own coping style and mental wellbeing can have a big influence on how well a child or adolescent recovers from a traumatic event. As a parent it is therefore very important that you look after yourself and seek help as early as possible if you are struggling to cope.

If your child is still having problems four weeks after the event, seek professional help for them.

Acute Stress Response may be diagnosed if the person is showing symptoms of extreme anxiety, stress or tension such as agitation, excitability, heart palpitations after a trauma. If symptoms continue to develop, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder may be diagnosed especially if normal social or occupational functioning is disturbed.  However, it should be noted that symptoms can appear months or years after the traumatic event.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder also known as PTSD is a debilitating mental disorder. It can occur after experiencing or seeing a traumatic event involving the threat of injury or death. It is only diagnosed if a person experiences symptoms for a month or more. It is usually diagnosed three months after the traumatic event which triggered the symptoms.

PTSD can occur at any age and can follow domestic abuse, assault, armed robbery, rape, motor accidents, diagnosis of a life threatening illness (such as a heart attack), natural disasters, or war. Witnessing any of these can be a trigger.

PTSD changes the body’s response to stress and symptoms fall into three categories:
1.    Repeated reliving of the event.
       Flashback episodes, can last from seconds to minutes and in some cases hours. 
       Recurrent distressing memories or dreams (often nightmares) of the event.

2.    Avoidance, making an effort to avoid thoughts, feelings or topics associated with the trauma.
       Feelings of detachment, numbing, despair, lack of interest in normal activities.

3.    Arousal
       Exaggerated startle response, hypervigilance (being on the lookout)
       Irritability or angry outbursts as well as sleeping difficulties

Treatment

Treatment will initially help a traumatised individual better cope with the symptoms, helping them develop a sense of control over disturbing memories, as well as helping them develop a better understanding of their reactions.Relaxation strategies promoting normal sleep is important. Some people need treatment for depression, alcohol or substance abuse. Anti-depressant medications can help reduce anxiety and other symptoms of PTSD making it easier to go ahead with treatment. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing (EMDR) are helpful in reducing the emotional reactions associated with the traumatic memory.

Note that some people fail to get the specialised psychological therapy for PTSD because the symptoms are very similar to other mood and anxiety disorders. Help is available however and therapy helps sufferers regain a sense of equilibrium and stability, enabling them to take part in life with renewed peace and engagement. If distressing feelings and memories trouble you longer than a week, it is time to begin therapy.

Contact  to  make an appointment.