Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
Post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) often brings about thoughts of returned soldiers’ and the horrors and atrocities they witness. But they aren’t the only ones serving our country that fall victim to PTSD, police officers, ambulance bearers and fireman see gruesome sights every day. In fact anyone who experiences or has witnessed an event that has threatened their life, safety or others around them can develop these mental reactions. This could be a car or other serious accident, physical or sexual assault, war related events, torture or natural disaster such as bushfire and flood. Other life changing events such as losing a job, getting divorced or the expected death of a loved one can all cause mental health problems but are not considered events that can cause PTSD.
PTSD often causes feelings of panic or extreme fear, which may resemble what was felt during the traumatic event. There are three main types of difficulties associated with PTSD. Reliving the traumatic event through unwanted and recurring memories and vivid nightmares, there may be intense emotional or physical reactions when reminded of the event. These can include sweating, heart palpitations or panic. Being overly alert or wound up causing sleeping difficulties, irritability, lack of concentration, becoming easily startled and constantly being on the lookout for signs of danger. Avoiding reminders of the event and feeling emotionally numb, deliberately avoiding activities, places, people, thoughts or feelings associated with the event. PTSD sufferers may lose interest in day-to-day activities and feel cut off and detached from family and friends or feel flat and numb.
There are a range of effective treatments available, most involve psychological treatment but medication can also be prescribed. Generally it’s best to start with psychological treatment rather than use medication as the first and only solution to the problem. The cornerstone of treatment for PTSD involves confronting the traumatic memory and working through thoughts and beliefs associated with the experience. These approaches help reduce PTSD symptoms, lessen anxiety and depression, improve a person’s quality of life or be effective for people who have experienced prolonged or repeated traumatic events, but treatment may be required for longer periods of time.
Hypnosis has been associated with PTSD treatment for two reasons. Firstly for the similarity between the hypnotic phenomena and the symptoms of PTSD and secondly as a tool in treatment.