Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD
Post traumatic stress disorder results when a person suffers a traumatic experience or experiences and therefore is left with a range of cognitive, behavioural and coping problems.
What causes PTSD Post Traumatic Stress Disorder?
Generally it is accepted that there are two main types of PTSD, those caused by individual traumatic events, such as a terror attack, rape, assault or bereavement, and those caused by a series of events over time, such as being in a conflict zone, being abused or being forced to survive a period of extreme circumstances.
What are the symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder?
There are generally two main kinds of symptoms resultant from PTSD.
1. General overall presentation: This might include high stress or anxiety levels including anxiety disorders, anger management issues, depression, insomnia, irritability, paranoia, heightened threat level estimation, hyper vigilance, social phobia, seclusion, and problems forming healthy relationships. This is no means a comprehensive list.
2. Reactive symptoms which are triggered by elements of the trauma or the environment in which the trauma occurred. These might include sounds, smells, tastes, colours, people who look a certain way and phobias. People’s actions can also be triggers, for example an abuse survivor may misinterpret another person being kind as the beginnings of manipulation, or a gentle touch as a precursor to sexual assault. Again this is no means a comprehensive list.
Effects of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
As well as experiencing the above symptoms, and those like them, the sufferer may become withdrawn, de-socialised, avoid people and cease to fully function. The effects tend to feedback and worsened – as the effects of social isolation worsen the way the person feels, so their behaviour might become less function, just as one example. Relationships tend to be particularly difficult with rejection and trust issues likely and the people around the sufferer also becoming severely effected by the condition.
Typically effects include:
- Affect regulation issues: the inability to handle attachment and self soothing situations where ideally one might normally move past fear, and make oneself feel better. This turns up as fear, anxiety or depression.
- Self esteem: Without the right attachment and soothing experiences one may not develop a positive self esteem.
- Relationship issues: With trauma and disruption, attachment and self esteem issues impact on one’s ability to maintain healthy relationships.
Because PTSD has so many related conditions, such as anxiety, depression, phobias, stress, relationship difficulties and so on, one treatment approach alone is not always effective. Each of the elements in itself has recommended approaches. For example NICE recommend cognitive behavioural approaches for anxiety and depression, and CBASP has excellent results with long term depression (see CBASP pages for references). Anxiety UK recommend counselling, hypnotherapy and CBT for anxiety and phobia issues. Hypnotherapy, mindfulness and relaxation methods are effective in many stress related conditions.
Treating the interpretation of the events themselves is usually carried out in one of many debriefing type methods. One of the most established is the “trauma run” method where the person relives the experience in the safety of a hypnotic or NLP based trance / altered state. Preparation and careful techniques ensure that the trauma does not exceed the person’s ability to handle recalling the memory. The trauma is then “run flat” by recalling it repeatedly until it is fully understood, reinterpreted and the emotional “charge” is greatly reduced. The memory is not “altered”, the perception and understanding however is modified to allow processing and “dealing” better with what happened. Versions of this include hypnosis based, EMDR and mindfulness based processes.
Other methods include using visualisation methods such as “inner child” (which sounds strange but which actually uses a symbolic character to represent your subconscious), or even shamanistic journey which is another symbolism based way of processing. These may sounds terribly “alternative”, but both methods are merely using rich symbolism and imagery to carry our a psychologically therapeutic process of processing and understanding.
Some practitioners also use fully conscious counselling debriefing, situational analysis, biofeedback based methods where the person is taught to control physical and mental responses and mindfulness.
Polyvagal theory has been able to explain much of the neurology behind the different PTSD anxiety responses and has provided new methods of employing psychotherapy and conversational hypnosis based techniques.
Because of the varied nature, causes and presentations of PTSD it is important for the practitioner to be multi-skilled and not just have one way of doing it, since individual clients are varied.
Who provides PTSD treatment?
Stuart is a trained clinical hypnotherapist and analyst (psychodynamic and cognitive behavioural) who is trained in a range of PTSD therapy methods including “trauma run” hypnotherapy processes. He is also trained in mindfulness, visualisation, NLP, psychotherapy and situational analysis methods of analysis and debriefing. Stuart is professionally registered as a hypnotherapist, psychotherapist, life coach, analyst, counsellor and complementary therapist. He is on the FHT and CNHC Professional Standards Authority Accredited Registers.
Stuart is also a former member of the Territorial Army and has signed the official secrets act. He accepts ex military and serving military personnel as clients and has worked with personnel from a number of services including special forces.
Post traumatic Stress Disorder, PTSD, Stress, Trauma, abuse, violence, abuse victim, abuse trauma, war trauma, battle trauma, military trauma, accident trauma, bereavement trauma, relationship trauma, trauma of assault, trauma of near death, psychotherapy, CBT, hypnotherapy, psychoanalysis, counselling, trauma debriefing, CBASP, situational analysis, anger management, stress management, counsellor, psychotherapist, polyvagal theory, psychologist, psychoanalyst, hypnotherapist, Edinburgh, Dublin, Falkirk, Glasgow.
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