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What is Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is an extreme reaction to witnessing or experiencing
a traumatic event in a person’s life and can happen to anybody. The
American Psychiatric Association’s (1994) definition of a traumatic event, as cited
in Lovell and Richards, suggests that two major issues are present:

first, that the events involved actual or threatened death or serious injury, or a threat to the physical integrity of others; secondly, the person’s response involved intense fear, helplessness, or horror (Examples of situations that could provoke PTSD include torture, war, rape,explosions, crashes and personal physical attacks. Bullying may be added to this list (Thomas 2004). Usually, the person begins to experience flashbacks that can be vivid in nature, as if the person is reliving the experience all over again. This can be characterised by a heightened sense of awareness; the person is overvigilant
of everything. There may be an increased startle reaction and the person appears to be ready for any threatening situation. Nightmares of varying degrees related to the event are common, as is insomnia. The person will try to avoid anything that
will remind them of the trauma. Personality changes can be evident with the person displaying aloofness, and they may not socialise with others, preferring instead to keep their own company. The ability to create and maintain relationships with members of either sex may be hindered. The person may display feelings of anger
or guilt, or they may be depressed. As a coping mechanism, abuse of alcohol and/or drugs is possible, which can compound the problem further.

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