This could be for you if...
- you've experienced or witnessed something traumatic
- you keep remembering the event, despite not wanting to
- you feel like you're constantly on “high alert”
- you've become more dependent on alcohol or other drugs since the event
PTSD – What is it?
PTSD stands for post-traumatic stress disorder. Basically, when you experience a traumatic event like a car crash, violence, sexual assault or accident, it's normal to go to pieces straight afterwards. Some people get better over the course of a month or so. If the reaction lasts longer than a month, it's known as PTSD.
What causes PTSD?
Any of the things we've listed above, and any other traumatic event, can result in PTSD. It doesn't even need to have happened to you directly. If you witness a horrific event, you can also develop PTSD. If the situation you were in involved extreme fear, helplessness or horror, which makes it more likely that you'll have PTSD.
How will I know?
There are many signs of PTSD. The major one is that you're constantly reliving the traumatic event – whether it's in flashbacks, intrusive memories, dreams, or in any other way. Other signs that you've got PTSD can include:
- avoiding situations that might remind you of the trauma
- increased alertness and watchfulness
- being easily startled
- a quick, irrational temper
- relying more heavily on alcohol or drugs
What can I do?
The bad news is that you can't just wait for it to go away. On the plus side, you can take steps to deal with PTSD, and if you follow through with them, it will get better. You should see a doctor or psychologist to help treat the symptoms. If your first stop is a GP, they're likely to send you to a psychologist or psychiatrist for further treatment. Most cases take about 10-16 weeks of counselling to resolve.
Exercising, and returning to your old routines can help you heal faster too. You probably won't feel like it, but it'll help.
Finally, your doctor might decide to put you on short-term medication to help you feel better.