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Behavioural Therapy Blog Archive

Post-traumatic stress disorder

Date Posted: 1st February, 2016

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a psychological condition that can develop after exposure to serious psychological trauma, such as being involved in an event where there is a threat of death or serious injury to yourself or someone else.

The symptoms for PTSD develop at a different rate with each individual.  Some sufferers may experience symptoms of PTSD immediately after the event, whereas others may experience such symptoms months or years after the event.

The symptoms for PTSD must satisfy particular criteria laid out in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM).  The current version is the DSM-V.

The types of symptoms for PTSD are many and could include: experiencing recurring thoughts, memories, flashbacks or dreams about the particular events, which could lead to distress or anxiety; avoidance of particular conversations, thoughts, people, activities or places that may be associated with the event; emotional detachment from others; feeling down or pessimistic about aspects of life; difficulty sleeping; difficulty concentrating; uncontrollable bursts of anger; or increased caution and wariness.

There is a wide range of treatment to help decrease the symptoms of PTSD and to support an individual with PTSD to deal with the symptoms themselves.
Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is an important nondrug treatment that can be used to manage the symptoms experienced by an individual with PTSD. CBT is a fundamental psychotherapeutic, goal-orientated and systematic approach that addresses dysfunctional and distressing thoughts, emotions and behaviours. The aim of CBT is to recognise the particular thoughts and/or ideas that are affecting the individual and then to establish different ways of thinking to avoid these intrusive and unhelpful thoughts. 

Eye movement desensitisation and reprocessing (EMDR) is another effective nondrug treatment for PTSD.  This is a therapy designed to desensitise intrusive thoughts relating to the particular traumatic event that has led to PTSD.

Self-help programmes are also an important nondrug treatment in the process of managing PTSD symptoms.  These particular programmes will give advice and tips on how to deal with the dysfunctional thoughts and they can be used anywhere and at any time.  Self-help programmes are useful as they help the individual to understand how to control their own emotions and thoughts in their own particular way and they can be practised as many times as the individual needs.  This is where LifeSkills is helpful, especially 'Relax – And Enjoy It!' and 'Control Your Tension'.