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In our everyday lives, any of us can have an experience that is overwhelming, frightening, and beyond our control. We could find ourselves in a car crash, the victim of an assault, or see an accident. Police, fire brigade or ambulance workers are more likely to have such experiences - they often have to deal with horrifying scenes. Soldiers may be shot or blown up, and see friends killed or injured. Most people, in time, get over experiences like this without needing help. In some people, though, traumatic experiences set off a reaction that can last for many months or years. This is called Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD for short. This leaflet is for anyone who has been through …ver más…
You see it in your mind, but may also feel the emotions and physical sensations of what happened - fear, sweating, smells, sounds, pain. Ordinary things can trigger off flashbacks. For instance, if you had a car crash in the rain, a rainy day might start a flashback.
2. Avoidance & Numbing It can be just too upsetting to re-live your experience over and over again. So you distract yourself. You keep your mind busy by losing yourself in a hobby, working very hard, or spending your time absorbed in crossword or jigsaw puzzles. You avoid places and people that remind you of the trauma, and try not to talk about it. You may deal with the pain of your feelings by trying to feel nothing at all - by becoming emotionally numb. You communicate less with other people, who then find it hard to live or work with you. 3. Being "On Guard" You find that you stay alert all the time, as if you are looking out for danger. You can't relax. This is called "hypervigilance". You feel anxious and find it hard to sleep. Other people will notice that you are jumpy and irritable. Other Symptoms Emotional reactions to stress are often accompanied by: - muscle aches and pains - diarrhoea - irregular heartbeats - headaches - feelings of panic and fear - depression - drinking too much alcohol - using drugs (including painkillers).
Why are traumatic events so shocking?
They undermine our sense that life is fair, reasonably safe, and that we are