Trauma & stress

What is post-traumatic stress?

Post-traumatic stress is a complex array of feelings and behaviours that may arise for people who have experienced or witnessed a traumatic event. This condition may also develop in response to sharing others’ experiences of traumatic events, or even threats of trauma.

Traumatic events include, yet are not limited to:

  • Childhood abuse
  • Vehicle accidents
  • War
  • Sexual assault
  • Physical assault
  • Death or loss of a loved one
  • Domestic violence
  • Natural disasters
  • Terrorism
  • Seeing someone injured or killed
  • Being physically or emotionally threatened
  • Aircraft crashes
  • Fire

Following these kinds of events, it is relatively common for people to experience intrusive and recurrent feelings of anxiety and grief, and have “flashback” memories or nightmares. With understanding and support these emotions do resolve over time.

However some people continue to experience severe anguish and anxiety, impacting their day-to-day functioning. A ‘’post-traumatic stress disorder” (PTSD) may be diagnosed when these experiences reach a persistent and disabling state.

In such cases, expert psychological guidance is recommended to assist sufferers to process the experience and resolve overwhelming feelings.

What are the signs of post-traumatic stress?

Sufferers may develop a range of unpleasant symptoms and unhelpful coping behaviours in response to the stress: 

Physical

  • Hyperarousal and constant vigilance to one’s surroundings 
  • Feeling tense, jittery, or “on edge” 
  • Insomnia  
  • Heart palpitations 
  • Muscle tension 
  • Hyperventilation  
  • Stomach upsets 

Behavioural  

  • Avoiding reminders of the distressing event – including places, people, objects, or music 
  • Misuse of substances 
  • Difficulties in intimate, social or familial relationships 
  • Impaired performance at work 
  • Specifically in children: events recreated in play  
  • Behavioural difficulties (including increased aggression and anger outbursts) 

Psychological 

  • Anxiety and panic 
  • Increased irritability and agitation 
  • Intrusive flashbacks or thoughts of the event 
  • Re-experiencing the event 
  • Mood swings and depression 
  • Dissociation – the feeling of being absent or detached from reality or emotions
  • Emotional numbing 
  • Decreased focus and concentration 
  • Feelings of guilt or worthlessness 
  • Self-recrimination –- blaming oneself for the event 
  • Nightmares

How can Re-centre help?

The experience of trauma can have a profound effect on people’s lives, in their day to day functioning to their views and perceptions of the world around them. We can work collaboratively with people to ‘understand and process’ their experience, develop coping skills and challenge their negative self-perceptions and beliefs.  

After an initial engagement and diagnostic consultation with one of our psychiatrists, a care pathway with personalised therapy recommendations can be considered and trialed, for when individuals are ready to proceed. 

A range of options are available: 

  • Group courses  
  • Individual therapies  
  • Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy 
  • Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) 
  • Graduated exposure and desensitisation therapy 

How do I support someone with PTSD?

  • Don’t pressure them to talk about, or share their experience – while some people may want to talk about what happened, others may want to forget, and then feel easily re-traumatised.  
  • If they do wish to talk, listen carefully and respect their personal emotional experience.  
  • Let them know that expert help is available, when they are ready. 

Who, at Re-centre, can help me with trauma and stress?

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