From Desk of Aidan Caffrey at Jade Natural Health Dublin 15, Offering support for those with PTSD is our specialty.
What is PTSD?
Of course, feeling fear when facing a scary or potentially dangerous situation is
entirely normal. In fact, this fear is essential to our survival. It triggers reactions in the body which aim to save our life if threatened. This fight or flight reaction is
natural and works to protect us.
Most people will experience a number of reactions after facing trauma, though will typically recover a short while after the event. For some people, however, these symptoms do not ease. They may feel frightened and stressed, and have flashbacks long after the event, and during regular situations. It's when these symptoms do not disappear and start to hinder everyday life that PTSD may be diagnosed.
Post-traumatic stress disorder is thought to affect one in every three people who have a traumatic experience. It is not yet clear why some people develop the condition, and others don’t. PTSD can develop immediately after the experience, or it can
appear weeks, months, or even years.
Symptoms of PTSD
In most cases, symptoms of PTSD will develop during the first month after the event.
Though, in some cases, there can be a delay of months or years before symptoms
Symptoms will also vary for individuals. Some people will experience long periods of minor, less noticeable symptoms, to then have periods where they are more severe.
Others will have constant severe symptoms, affecting their day to day life.
While specific symptoms of PTSD will vary between individuals, there are common
symptoms associated with PTSD which generally fall under the following categories.
The most common symptom of PTSD. Re-experiencing is when a person re-lives the triggering event. Re-experiencing typically occurs in the form of vivid flashbacks, nightmares, repetitive and distressing images or sensations, and physical sensations, such as pain, sweating and nausea.
Some people will constantly experience negative thoughts about the event, asking
themselves questions over and over again. “Why would this happen to me? Should I have stopped it?"
This repeated questioning may prevent them from coming to terms and coping with the event, often leading to feelings of guilt or shame.
Avoidance and emotional numbing
Another key symptom of post-traumatic stress disorder is actively trying to avoid any reminders of the trauma. This may mean avoiding certain people or places which are reminders of the event, or talking to anyone about the experience.
It’s common for people with PTSD to ignore memories, ‘pushing them out of their mind’ by distracting themselves through other things, like work.
Other people may try to cope with how they’re feeling by trying to switch off
completely. Not feeling anything sometimes seems like the easier option. This is
known as emotional numbing. Emotional numbing can result in the person
becoming isolated and withdrawn. They lose enjoyment in the things they once
enjoyed. PTSD can lead to increased feelings of anxiety and difficulty relaxing. This symptom of more of a state of mind; people may be constantly aware of danger and threat, and be easily startled. This is known as hyperarousal (or feeling ‘on edge’).
Hyperarousal can lead to increased irritability, sleeping problems, anger and
Other problems PTSD can have a detrimental effect on a person’s life. As well as the above symptoms, people with PTSD are likely to have other symptoms, related to the condition, such
Other mental health problems, including anxiety, depression or phobias.
Physical symptoms, including headaches, chest pains, stomach aches and
Self-harming or destructive behaviour, including drug or alcohol misuse.
Without the right knowledge and support, dealing with PTSD can be a very lonely
time. The condition can in some cases, lead to relationship breakdowns and work-
What are the causes?
Anyone can be affected by PTSD. The anxiety disorder can develop after a
frightening, life-threatening or distressing event, or after a prolonged traumatic
Types of events thought to lead to post-traumatic stress disorder include:
serious road accidents
witnessing violent deaths or the unexpected injury or death of a loved one
Who’s at risk?
While it’s unclear why some people may develop the condition and others will not,
there are certain factors thought to affect your chances of developing PTSD.
According to the NHS, if you’ve had depression or anxiety you may be more
susceptible to developing PTSD after a distressing event.
Other risk factors include having little or no social support after the event, having
experienced childhood trauma or if you experience extra stress after the event (the death of a loved one, loss of a job etc.).
Children can also be affected by PTSD. They will typically experience similar
symptoms to adults, however, there are some symptoms more specific to children, such as bedwetting, separation anxiety or increased worry when away from adults or re-enacting the event through play.
Seeking help for PTSD
After experiencing a particularly distressing event, it’s normal to feel confused and upset. For most people, these upsetting thoughts will ease after a couple of weeks. If you or your child are still experiencing problems four weeks or so after the event, consider visiting your doctor. They will assess your symptoms and feelings and if necessary, refer you to a mental health specialist.
How can hypnotherapy help?
Some people have found hypnotherapy a helpful tool to cope better with PTSD
symptoms. Hypnotherapy, is thought to be an effective way to process troublesome
memories of trauma.
Trauma can cause a person to disconnect from their own internal sense of safety. So, the sooner the emotions are managed, the sooner the person will recover.
Hypnotherapy can help you cope with the trauma and learn how to regain a sense of control and normality in your life.
The premise behind hypnotherapy is that is aims to access your unconscious and
change the negative thoughts that are holding you back. Using the power of
suggestion, hypnotherapy works to promote positive change. The suggestions used will depend on your symptoms and what you wish to gain from your sessions. The hypnotherapist will tailor techniques to you, helping you to manage symptoms and recognize potential triggers, as well as changing the way you react towards them.