What Is?

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a SEVERE ANXIETY DISORDER that can develop after any event that results in psychological trauma, such as threat of death, to yourself or others or a threat to your own or others physical, sexual or psychological integrity. PTSD is a debilitating condition that can affect every aspect of a person’s life. It can lead to problems with drugs, alcohol, money, relationships and work. Many sufferers try to self medicate which only aggravates and amplifies the PTSD symptoms, leading to a vicious circle of events. Getting help can be hard, admitting you need help is even harder. Knowing what is wrong with you is the first step to managing your PTSD, especially as it can be misdiagnosed so easily.

Symptoms of PTSD

PTSD is characterised by three main symptom clusters: Re-experience, Avoidance and Hyper-arousal

Re-experiencing Symptoms

Individuals with PTSD repeatedly relive the event in at least one or more of the following ways:

– Intrusive unwanted memories of the traumatic event
– Unpleasant nightmares which include replays of the traumatic event
– Flashbacks where they may suddenly act or feel as if they are reliving the event
– Becoming emotionally upset if something reminds them of the traumatic experience, this could be something as simple as a smell
– Palpitations, sweating, feeling tense or shaky if they are reminded about the traumatic experience
– Can feel pain, trembling and sweating as part of the memories

Avoidance Symptoms

People with PTSD try to avoid thoughts and feelings related to the traumatic event. They find it extremely difficult at times, as the traumatic images and memories intrude spontaneously. Symptoms include:

– Avoiding activities, places or people that remind them of their trauma
– Difficultly remembering exactly what happened during exposure to the trauma ( this reflects the intense fear at time of exposure )
– Becoming less interested in hobbies and activities that they used to enjoy
– Feeling detached and estranged from people, and feeling that nobody understands them – a tendency to isolate themselves
– Becoming emotionally numb, and having trouble expressing their feelings
– A sense of futility in relation to their future and feeling that somehow they will be struck down by yet another disaster or tragedy

Hyper-arousal Symptoms

Hyper-arousal symptoms cause problems with relationships, especially problems generated by irritability and anger. They include:

– Great difficulty falling or staying asleep
– A tendency to being irritable and angry at the slightest provocation and for trivial reasons
– A tendency to become aggressive, verbally and/or physically, or to become violent towards themselves or others
– Great difficulty concentrating and concentration usually requires great effort
– Remaining especially alert and watchful ( hyper-vigilance )
– Looking for signs of danger in their environment and in an exaggerated way, they are tuned in to any sign that they might perceive as threatening

Commonly Associated Symptoms

The other symptoms that are commonly associated with PTSD relate to feelings of guilt and difficulty relating to authority figures.
Guilt can take two forms:

– Guilt in relation to what one should or should not have done during the traumatic exposure
– Survivor guilt. While the individual survived relatively intact ( physically, at least ) others involved in the traumatic experience did not

In many traumatic exposures, the individual may perceive that the system or hierarchy has let them down, and therefore anger and hostility can be a major factor in the presentation of PTSD

Anxiety

Anxiety is another common symptom of PTSD. IT can affect you both physically and psychologically. Symptoms of anxiety include:

Physically
– Dizziness
– Tiredness
– A noticeable strong and fast heartbeat ( palpitations )
– muscle aches and tension
– trembling or shaking
– dry mouth
– excessive sweating
– shortness of breath
– stomach ache
– feeling sick
– headache
– pins and needles
– difficulty falling or staying asleep ( insomnia )

Psychological
– restlessness
– a sense of dread
– feeling constantly on edge
– difficulty concentrating
– irritability

What is Combat related Complex PTSD?

Complex PTSD results from protracted exposure to prolonged trauma or multiple untreated traumatic events. These can be physical or psychological events.

Combat related PTSD known in the past as shell shock, war neurosis, combat stress reaction, combat fatigue and battle exhaustion now also known as combat stress or combat trauma. This is the result of exposure to military related traumatic events, mostly relating to direct experience of combat, witnessing death and destruction, bullying, bad leadership, operating in dangerous war-zones or taking part in difficult peace keeping operations. The symptoms of combat related PTSD are aggravated by military training and the reversal of the fight or flight response ( a soldier is trained to go towards the source of the danger instead of away from it )
Combat related complex PTSD results when multiple traumatic events are allowed to go untreated, often due to fear of stigma, lack of support or help, also multiple events happening in a short period of time. Often traumas from military service can go unrecognised and it can take between 10-15 years for any help to be sought. Often a traumatic life event will trigger  a relapse of the stress from military service.