Soon after people have endured distressing events, the term ‘post-traumatic stress disorder’ (PTSD) crops up. This is the official name for the syndrome that may develop when you have been through shocking events. This syndrome includes specific psychological complaints, as described below.
However, it would be much better to speak of (post-) trauma complaints, or complaints developing after shocking events. This is because if people develop psychological complaints, these can express themselves through a PTSD but they manifest themselves just as often in the form of a depression or an anxiety disorder.
The diagnosis PTSD is given if, after a distressing event, the complaints outlined below persist for longer than one month and these complaints have a clear impact on your everyday life:
- < > images, sounds, smells that remind you of the distressing event; these include intrusive images, sounds and smells that you can’t get away from, but also recurring dreams and nightmares; it sometimes feels as if you are completely back again in the traumatic situation; the re-experiencings are accompanied by unpleasant physical sensations.
< > with avoidance, you don’t want to think or talk about what happened; it also includes avoiding people, places or situations that remind you of the traumatic event; you take great pains to avoid these people or things; in the beginning this strategy of avoiding seems to work but in the long run it is not going to do you any good.
negative thoughts or emotions that are related to the event: this includes your being unable to remember parts of the event; negative thoughts such as “There’s something terribly wrong with me,” “You can’t trust anybody,” or “The world is a completely dangerous place”; but also blaming yourself or others; or having feelings of fear, horror, anger or shame; and decreased interest in activities that you used to enjoy doing; or feeling distant or cut off from others.
stress complaints: you feel you’re constantly under a strain, tense and this can be expressed in, for instance: being irritable; having a short fuse; irritations that easily escalate into excessive anger and aggression; taking risks (being reckless); being very alert/vigilant; sleeping problems; being easily startled and finding it difficult to keep your mind on something (problems with concentration).
If you experience this sort of complaints shortly after the event, have a look under ‘Online tools’. But if your complaints persist for longer than 4-6 weeks, it is important that you seek help; for this, go to ‘Help and Counselling’.