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What is PTSD?

Post after      Traumatic – Wounded      

Stress – form of stress      Disorder or Injury

What is PTSD?

Types of PTSD?

  • Trauma and stressor-related injury caused by very stressful, frightening or distressing events.

  • Sufferer relives a traumatic event:

  • Many symptoms that affect both mind and body.

  • The symptoms are:
    Severe and persistent
    Significant impact on person’s day-to-day life.

  • Can develop immediately after an experience or occur weeks, months or years later.

There are various types of PTSD and associated conditions. Below we explain the differences.

Normal stress response is what occurs before PTSD begins. However, it does not always lead up to the full-blown disorder. Events like accidents, injuries, illnesses, surgeries and other sources of unreasonable amounts of tension and stress can all lead to this response. Typically, normal stress response can be effectively managed with the support of loved ones, peers and individual or group therapy sessions. Individuals suffering from normal stress response should see a recovery within a few weeks

Acute stress disorder, while not the same as PTSD, can occur in people who have been exposed to what is or what feels like a life-threatening event. Natural disasters, loss of loved ones, loss of a job or risk of death are all stressors that can trigger acute stress disorder. If left untreated, acute stress disorder may actually develop into PTSD. Acute stress disorder can be treated through individual and group therapy, medication and intensive treatments designed by a psychiatrist.

Simple PTSD is linked to one major traumatic event, versus multiple events, and is the easiest form of PTSD to treat. Symptoms of uncomplicated PTSD include: avoidance of trauma reminders, nightmares, flashbacks to the event, irritability, mood changes and changes in relationships. Uncomplicated PTSD can be treated through therapy, medication or a combination of both.

Complex PTSD is caused by multiple traumatic events, not just one. Complex PTSD is common in abuse or domestic violence cases, repeated exposure to war or community violence, or sudden loss. While they share the same symptoms, treatment of complex PTSD is a little more intense than uncomplicated PTSD. Individuals with complex PTSD can be diagnosed with borderline or antisocial personality disorder or dissociative disorders. They exhibit behavioral issues, such as impulsivity, aggression, substance abuse or sexual impulsivity. They can also exhibit extreme emotional issues, such as intense rage, depression or panic.

Vicarious PTSD affects those who witness horrific situations but are themselves unharmed physically[1]. Although many such situations happen rapidly, such as an automobile accident, others are months or even years in the making.

Sometimes called secondary trauma, vicarious trauma is often found in those who take care of other people. Human services workers, nurses, physicians, counselors, and the list goes on and on. Healthcare and therapists are common victims of vicarious trauma.[2] Police officers and criminal investigators are also prone to secondary and vicarious trauma. Helping people who have been grievously wounded in the bodies, minds or spirits can lead to a kind of secondary wounding. It results from highly empathic people coming into contact with terrible situations. Ironically, people who make their work helping others in the worst of times tend to be above average in empathy, making them prime sufferers of secondary trauma.


  • Re-experiencing

  • Intrusive thoughts

  • Flashbacks

  • Sensory – visual, auditory and olfactory

  • Hyperarousal

  • Increased psychological and physiological tension

  • Hypervigilance

  • Anxiety

  • Heightened startle responses

  • Insomnia

  • Fatigue

  • Irritability

  • Avoidance and emotional numbing

  • Trauma related reminders, thoughts and feelings

  • Negative thoughts


  • Serious road accidents

  • Violent personal assaults, such as sexual assault, mugging or robbery

  • Prolonged sexual abuse, violence or severe neglect

  • Witnessing violent deaths

  • Military combat

  • Being held hostage

  • Terrorist attacks

  • Natural disasters, such as severe floods, earthquakes or tsunamis

Personal Changes

  • Heightened emotional reactivity

  • Violent outbursts

  • Crying at small triggers

  • Reckless/self-destructive behaviour

  • Dissociation/disconnection/emotional numbing

  • Unable to experience pleasure or positive emotions

  • Feelings of worthlessness

  • Feelings of shame or guilt

  • Difficulties in sustaining relationships

  • Occasional close/intense relationships but no long-term emotional engagement

  • Consistent avoidance, derision or lack of interest in relationships and social engagement

Observational Changes

  • Poor co-worker interactions

  • Emotional outbursts

  • No longer socialising

  • “Sorry, I’m busy tonight”

  • Arguing with partner/children

  • Work interruptions

  • Fear or anxiety

  • Addiction

  • Excessive drinking, eating, gambling, exercise

  • Work tardiness or excessive work hours

  • Absenteeism and physical problems

  • “Sorry, I won’t be in today, I have a cold”

  • Memory and concentration problems

  • Drop in work performance

  • Inappropriate use of internet

  • Tiredness

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