NHS.UK defines Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) as an Anxiety disorder caused by stressful, frightening or distressing events.
PTSD is estimated to affect about 1 in every 3 people, children and adults, who have a traumatic experience, but it’s not clear exactly why some people develop the condition and others don’t. Trauma can be a single one off event, or series of events occurring over time. Between 80-90% of PTSD sufferers also have other problems such as depression and other anxiety disorders. Drug or alcohol misuse and anger may also occur.
Symptoms and Signs of PTSD
Following events that are particularly distressing sometimes people experience psychological and physical problems (please note these are in no particular order):
It is not unusual to experience distressing symptoms like those described above in the first 4 weeks after a traumatic event. If you see your GP at this stage they will not offer treatment but should offer another appointment within 1 month (this period of time is sometimes referred to as watchful waiting). If problems persist, or if you have not previously been to the GP but have troublesome symptoms, for up to 4 weeks after experiencing a traumatic event you should go and visit your GP.
PTSD can be successfully treated. The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence – NICE guidelines advise that if you have experienced a trauma and have distressing symptoms, your GP is the best place to start. He or she should be aware of the types of trauma associated with the development of PTSD. When you first go to see your GP, he or she will want to find out about your general health, how you are feeling, and how life is at home, school or work. If you see your GP about distressing symptoms in the first 4 weeks after a traumatic event, you may be told it is very common to feel like this and not to be alarmed. You may not be offered any treatment at this stage, although your GP should offer you another appointment within 1 month. (If you do not have a further appointment you should go back to your doctor if you do not feel better.) However, if your symptoms are severe, your GP should offer you treatment straight away.