Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
If you are experiencing memories of trauma that are so vivid that those events seem to be happening all over again, you might have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). This is a frightening condition that occurs frequently in military veterans, emergency responders such as police officers, paramedics and firefighters, victims of abuse, and people who have seen or experienced a traumatic event.
Traumatic or dangerous situations trigger fear in almost all of us. The fear manifests as a set of physical symptoms collectively known as the “fight or flight” response. These symptoms, which include an elevated heart rate, increased respiration and a sense of high alertness, are designed to prepare our bodies to either fight the threat or flee from it. It is common for the fear response to linger when the event is over, before starting to subside.
For people with PTSD, the fear continues long after the event has happened. Many of them experience complete recall of the incident that is triggered by sights, sounds and smells. For example, a military veteran who hears a car backfire might immediately go into combat mode, months or years after the end of the war. A survivor of domestic violence might hear her abuser’s favourite song on the radio, and feel the same fear she experienced during the period of abuse.
If you have PTSD, the symptoms you might be experiencing include the following:
- A sense of heightened awareness in situations that don’t call for it
- Fear and anxiety that are disproportionate to the circumstances
- Perfect recall of traumatic events that are triggered by sights, sounds and smells
- Nightmares and flashbacks
- Depression, mood swings and feelings of guilt
- A negative view of the world
- Substance abuse
- Eating or sleeping too much or too little
At InnerSight Psychotherapy, we have therapists who are specially trained to help clients with a history of trauma. Using a gentle approach, we will help you develop ways to manage your triggers so that you feel safe. Once you have mastered some of these methods, we will work with you to change the way in which you process the memory of the trauma.
You are not likely to ever forget the events that led to you having PTSD, but with the help of our compassionate therapists, you can stop those memories from ruling your life. If you are struggling with memories of trauma or abuse, please come and see us so we can help you reclaim your life.