Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

What is Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)?

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is an anxiety disorder caused by very stressful and distressing events such as a serious road accident, health problems, childbirth, assault and many others. Individuals suffering with PTSD often relive the traumatic event through nightmares and flashbacks, which many find debilitating for day-to-day life.


PTSD can develop immediately after an individual experiences a traumatic event, or it can occur weeks, months or even years later.


Symptoms list:

The most common symptom of PTSD is ‘re-experiencing’, when an individual vividly relives the disturbing event. Re-experiencing can be in the form of:

  • Flashbacks

  • Nightmares

  • Physical sensations (feeling sick, in pain, sweating or trembling)

  • Intrusive and repetitive images/sensations


Individuals may also experience:

  • Emotional numbing

  • Hyperarousal (a sense of feeling ‘on edge’)

  • Disturbed sleep

  • Irritability or aggressive behaviour

  • Difficulty concentrating

Did you know?

PTSD is estimated to affect about 1 in every 3 people who have a traumatic experience, but it's not clear exactly why some people develop the condition and others do not.

Supporting those with PTSD

Let your loved one take the lead

As with many mental health conditions, it is important to listen to the loved one who is suffering. Take their lead to ensure they are comfortable with the progression of recovery. This approach tends to work better than enforcing restrictions or telling your loved one what to do. The less pressure you inflict, the better when providing support.

Look out for warning signs

To ensure you can provide the utmost support to your loved one, it is important to learn and look out for warning signs of their personal triggers. You may notice a sudden change in their mood, or energy levels. By being alert to their behaviour, you will be able to provide support when needed. When you notice these changes, try to ask your loved one how they are feeling to encourage them to open up about their condition.

Let them know help is at hand

No one deserves to suffer alone. Unfortunately, when suffering with PTSD, it is all too easy to feel isolated and scared. For you, it is important to know that you don’t have to take on the support of your loved one entirely by yourself; professional help is available and is very effective in aiding recovery. You could help your friend or family member to find further support by encouraging them to take the first steps to contacting a GP, or therapist.


Supporting yourself - how to cope with PTSD

Overcome the sense of helplessness

With the controlling symptoms of PTSD, comes the overwhelming sense of being helpless and vulnerable. By challenging these unwanted feelings, you will soon overcome them. A good way to reclaim your sense of power is to help others. Be it through, volunteering, donating to charity or even donating blood, all of these actions can help you to feel positive and in control.

Get out and about

Like with many conditions, exercising can have huge benefits to controlling PTSD. Exercise releases endorphins and helps to improve your mood and outlook on life. This can help your nervous system and contribute to moving out of the stress response, which is apparent in PTSD symptoms. For added relaxation and peace, try exercising in nature!

Don’t suffer in silence

Don’t exclude yourself from loved ones; it could only make you feel worse. Instead, reach out to an individual you trust and confide in them. Just a simple chat about how you are feeling could make you feel much better. Plus, knowing you have a supportive network of friends and family can help you recover quicker and more safely.


If your PTSD is disrupting your daily life to a debilitating degree, you may wish to contact your GP for professional support.


For day to day help, our one-to-one assistants can bring relief from PTSD in many ways, enabling you on your journey back to a normal life. To find out more about how our friendly Independent Living West Country team can assist you, just click here.

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