stress disorder (PTSD) is defined as the development of characteristic
symptoms following a psychologically distressing event that is ‘outside
the range of usual human experience’. This includes torture, sudden
destruction of one’s home or community, threat or harm to close
relatives and friends, and so on.
Common symptoms include
re-experiencing the event, for example in nightmares and flashbacks,
avoidance of things associated with the trauma, which can trigger
severe anxiety and sometimes physical panic responses, sleep
disturbance and poor concentration. All these are essentially normal
reactions to abnormal events. However, where survivors develop severe,
extreme or long-term mental health problems that seriously hamper their
ability to live normally, a diagnosis of PTSD may be helpful in terms
of opening doors to help and support from the health service.
most effective therapeutic approach for long-term, severe PTSD appears
to be a series of talking treatment sessions with a clinical
psychologist, in which the person with PTSD is encouraged to talk
through their experiences in detail. This may involve behavioural or
cognitive therapeutic approaches.