Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

What is post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)?

People may develop PTSD having experienced or witnessed an event which was terrifying or horrifying, for example a road traffic accident, violent assault, rape or military combat. In the days or weeks after the event most people feel more anxious, on edge, have difficulty sleeping and have unwanted memories of the traumatic event, but often these feelings settle down after a few weeks. However sometimes the feelings do not pass and people continue to experience unwanted memories or nightmares about the event, to feel anxious and jumpy, and to avoid reminders of the event. It is when these feelings or symptoms persist that PTSD may be ‘diagnosed’.

What do we offer in our service to help with this?

At present we offer individual Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) to people who are experiencing PTSD. This involves the person talking about the event in a structured way and gradually reducing avoidance of reminders of the event. We are also starting to offer Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) which, like CBT, is recommended by the National Institute of Health and Care Excellence (NICE) for the treatment of PTSD.

You can find links to books on PTSD and trauma on our Resources page. However we recommend that you work on your difficulties with a therapist rather than using a self-help book.