One of the worst things about post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can be that we feel completely alone and cut off from the rest of society. We can feel that nobody else could possibly comprehend the intensity of our suffering.
This is certainly what I felt when my depression and anxiety were at their worst – indeed, I felt like this for several years as all therapeutic interventions in the first few years of my condition failed.
When we are at our lowest, it can be helpful to remember that others are suffering as much as we are. In the case of PTSD, research has shown that sufferers tend to have the same kind of thoughts – I list the top ten below:
– I can’t trust people anymore
– Other people want to harm me and the world is a dangerous and threatening place
– I am utterly helpless
– The reason I can’t cope is that I’m weak
– Something terrible is just about to happen
– I am completely unable to cope and this will never change
– It’s my fault that the trauma happened, I should have done something which would have prevented it
– From now on I can’t make a single mistake, if I do, it will be extremely dangerous to me
– I can never rely on anyone to protect me
– I will never recover from feeling this way
It should be noted that these thoughts could be operating beneath the level of conscious awareness – therapy can help expose these underlying core beliefs and help the individual to replace them with more positive ones; cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is often very effective in this regard.
However, some people are uncertain whether or not to seek such therapy (many are available in addition to CBT). As a general guide, it is probably best to seek professional help if you are suffering from symptoms such as those described below:
One of the main questions to ask is:
– Are my symptoms interfering with my social, occupational, or academic functioning?
If this is the case, it is definitely advisable to seek expert advice on what kind of therapy may ameliorate your symptoms. Even just talking to someone about the traumatic experience/s can be of value. Specific symptoms that can be addressed through various types of therapy include :
– constantly feeling agitated and irritable
– difficulty responding on an emotional level to family/partner
Professional support is particularly advisable for those who are socially isolated and/or have nobody else to talk to about their traumatic experiences.
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David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).