girl with light

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder condition in which sufferers have often experienced a succession or a single traumatic event in their lives. This can range from events in childhood related to abuse, horrific events experienced in a war zone or something like a robbery.

It is not only the event(s) that determines how traumatised someone is, but also the susceptibility towards experiencing PTSD can be determined by prior aversive childhood experiences. So if a lot of stress was experienced in childhood or if someone has a genetic predisposition for heightened levels of physiological arousal and anxiety in the present, it’s more likely that a traumatic event will throw them over the edge.

Arousal Levels

Sufferers will often feel on edge and like they can’t relax. They may also feel distress towards cues that relate to the traumatic event(s). A woman that was assaulted may for example feel fear when she smells the perpetrators perfume or a soldier may experience distress when hearing fireworks. In severe cases these kind of cues can lead to something called dissociation. Dissociation causes people to lose touch with the present moment and make them detach from what’s around them. They retreat into a very passive state. This is a survival mechanism that exists in order to not take in anything around them as their current environment is regarded as too threatening.

Trauma from people around sufferers in early childhood can make people’s mind adjust in a way that they understand that everyone around them is out to get them or excessively threatening in some way. A man that was abused by his mother may develop a view of women that is far more negative than it needs to be. This may make that man avoid women which in return never allows him to experience disconfirmation of his beliefs. Even if the man didn’t avoid and did the opposite by being openly hostile or by ”using” women, he maintains false beliefs concerning the majority of women.

Classical and Operant Conditioning

The same mechanism can apply to simple examples too. If someone is robbed in an alleyway, one may experience fear around alleys that look similar and therefore avoid these. Again, there is never a chance to recondition the brain by avoiding. A dominant approach within the mind is geared towards short term benefit after all.

Some sufferers also experience flashbacks of traumatic events. These can be images like shown in some movies. However, many sufferers may also experience an intrusive ”felt sense” of threat that directly resembles the moments in which they had experienced the trauma.

There will be many things that survivors of trauma do that directly relate to PTSD. They may for example excessively people please, be self sacrificing or overly perfectionist. This is a survival tactic in order to prevent others from getting angry as these are seen as excessively powerful. This creates a lack of boundaries which makes it more likely that they will be abused in the future which reinforces the need to people please etc.

The main treatments for PTSD in London are cognitive behavioural therapy and / or EMDR. Both forms of therapy have proven themselves to be effect forms of psychotherapy in London. If you believe that you are suffering from a severe problem like PTSD, you can make a search request today and we can help you find a suitable counselor or psychotherapist in London.