What is PTSD?
PTSD is a mental illness. Traumatic events which are unexpected or where the person is powerless to stop or change the event can cause PTSD. It can make the person experience symptoms such as re-experiencing the traumatic event through nightmares, flashbacks, or thoughts of the event that seem to come from nowhere. They may feel like something terrible is about to happen and feel very numb and detached. People also experience a change in their thoughts and mood related to the traumatic event. For some people, alcohol or drugs can be a way to cope with PTSD.
Who does it affect?
While some people experience trauma at some point in their life, not all traumatic experiences lead to PTSD. Some jobs or occupations such as military personnel, first responders, doctors and nurses put people in dangerous situations and have higher rates of PTSD than other professions. Trauma is not always a single event in the past. Some trauma, particularly repeated acts like abuse or trauma during wartime, can impact a person’s life far beyond the symptoms of PTSD.
What can I do about it?
If you experience problems in your life related to trauma, it’s important to take your feelings seriously and talk to a health care professional. Counselling has been shown to be effective by teaching you how your thoughts, feelings and behaviours work together and how to deal with problems and stress. You can also learn skills like relaxation techniques to bring you back to the present. Support groups are a place to share your own experiences and learn from others, and help you connect with people who understand what you’re going through.