At Super Health Chatswood Medical Centre, our compassionate and experienced team is ready to help you with how to recover from PTSD. Post-traumatic stress disorder is a type of anxiety that can present after people experience a stressful event. With PTSD patients tend to feel very anxious and alert, and memories and re-runs of the trauma tend to take over the patient’s life. It is possible for people suffering from PTSD to make a full recovery with the appropriate professional care.
Who Is Affected By PTSD?
PTSD can affect anyone who has experienced harm. The harm or trauma that causes PTSD is very serious or life threatening, and may be physical or sexual. It is more likely to be present in scenarios with intentional trauma, rather than unintentional trauma. Statistically women are more likely to experience PTSD than men, with a quarter of people who are exposed to trauma likely to develop PTSD. It can affect people of all ages.
Serious car accidents are the leading cause of PTSD in Australia but it can be triggered through war experience, natural disasters or physical or sexual harm.
What Are The Symptoms Of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder?
It is quite normal to experience strong emotions and reactions after a trauma. Feelings like anger, sadness and fear are all part of processing a traumatic experience.
For the majority of people these feelings will pass by given enough time, but for others, these feelings can be very distressing and may interfere with that person’s day-to-day activities at work and at home. It can also affect the sufferer’s interpersonal relationships.
The symptoms of PTSD are clustered into four main groups
Some people have a dissociative experience, and they notice a distance opening up between themselves and the world around them.
Pervasive Anxiety and jumpiness
Because the sufferer of PTSD is on such high alert, they can appear to be jumpy for no reason.
In fact the person experiencing PTSD is alert to protect themselves from potential or perceived danger, making them hyper-sensitive, irritable and lacking concentration.
Reliving the traumatic event is a common sign of PTSD, and this can occur through memories or nightmares. During these flashbacks the person may sweat profusely, have heart palpitations or experience panic attacks.
Avoiding things that remind them of the trauma
Sufferers tend to avoid people, places and activities that remind them of the trauma and may adapt their life to the PTSD.
PTSD often coexists with other mental health disorders like anxiety and depression. Sufferers may develop drug and substance abuse habits to help them cope with their day-to-day living.
How to recover from PTSD
Recovery from PTSD requires an integrated approach and employs the use of counselling and medication.
Counselling for PTSD management
Treatments such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and eye movement desensitisation and reprocessing (EMDR) have proven to be effective therapies for the management of PTSD.
It is understandable that a person who is experiencing PTSD may want to repress their thoughts and feelings, but the most effective strategy is to address the trauma. The goal of counselling is to help you to develop the skills to process what happened to you.
By addressing rather than avoiding the problem, you can free yourself of the associated disorders like anxiety and depression.
If you are concerned about addressing your PTSD through counselling, here are some questions that can help you take a driving seat in the process:
- How does the treatment work?
- Are there are any negative side effects I should be aware of?
- How long does it take to recover from PTSD?
- Will I need any support while undergoing the treatment?
Treating PTSD With Medication
The most common medication for PTSD recovery is an antidepressant known as a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI). These SSRIs have proven to be effective at helping people recover from PTSD even if they do not have depression.
The medication is effective at helping with PTSD recovery because it helps you to manage your feelings more effectively. This is especially important during counselling, as the process may bring up thoughts and feelings that you have been trying to suppress.
There are often side effects associated with SSRIs, and these should be discussed with your doctor. Also remember that the anti-depressants will not start working immediately, it will take a few weeks before you will notice their benefits.
It is also usually recommended that the medication is used for at least 12 months, and that when you stop you wean yourself off gradually and only under guidance from your healthcare practitioner.
If you would like to find out more about how to recover from PTSD, there is no reason to suffer in silence. Our qualified and compassionate psychologist Ms Xiaoyan (Loy) Lai is available to assist you with an integrated approach to recovery so you can restore your quality of life: (02) 9884 9300.