What is PTSD?

Post-traumatic Stress Disorder usually occurs when people have witnessed or experienced a traumatic event- this could include an accident, a terrorist attack, sexual violence, being threatened, etc.

People who suffer from PTSD get disturbing thoughts and emotions regarding the incident long after it has occurred and some symptoms might include getting nightmares or flashbacks and reliving the event. They might also feel fear, sadness, or anger, and detached from those around them. This might lead them to avoid people or situations that remind them of the traumatic event, and have strong negative reactions to an accidental touch, loud noises, etc.

To be diagnosed with PTSD, you must have direct or indirect exposure to a traumatic incident. For example, it could be direct like if you witness a violent death of a close friend; or indirect if you have heard of a case of child abuse- police officers, for example, who are repeatedly exposed to the trauma of others, or even doctors- they may suffer second-hand PTSD.


The symptoms can be placed into 4 categories:

  1. Intrusion- intrusive negative thoughts like repeated memories, disturbing dreams, recurring flashbacks- reliving the traumatic event.
  2. Avoidance- avoiding anything that reminds them of the traumatic event that will trigger them, avoiding talking about It, etc.
  3. Altered cognition and mood- negative feelings and thoughts which may lead to distorted beliefs about others and yourself- e.g.: “I am bad”, “I am not good enough.”

    It could lead to feeling detached from others, moody, frustrated, angry, guilty, etc.

  4. Change in reactivity: This may include having angry, sudden outbursts, feeling irritated all the time, behaving too cautiously or too recklessly; being watchful of your surroundings, and being startled easily.

Therapy for PTSD:

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy has been proved to help reduce trauma. It is observed that those who have experienced a traumatic event often associate safe reminders of the event (news stories etc) with meaning (“this is a dangerous world”) and responses to that meaning (feelings of fear, numbness).

With the help of CBT, you can change these associations to form a healthier thought process, which will in turn make you function better. It will encourage you to re-evaluate your thinking and assumptions in order to identify unhelpful patterns that might trigger you.

These unhelpful thought patterns, or ‘distortions’, can include- overgeneralizing a bad outcome, jumping to conclusions, always expecting a catastrophic outcome, etc. The goal of CBT is to convert this into an effective way of thinking.

Some ways to reduce avoidance and maladaptive behaviour is through exposure to reminders of the trauma, or emotions associated with it. This may be a painful process to begin with, but unlearning is also a part of healing, and this planned and controlled exposure is a way for you to regain a sense of control and confidence.


  • Learning how to live with experiencing a traumatic event and healing from it
  • Gaining self-confidence and control back through careful and controlled exposure to the trauma
  • Getting the tools to unlearn avoidance and maladaptive behaviour and converting it into effective behaviour
  • Identifying cognitive distortions, or unhealthy thought patterns, to understand how it is negatively affecting your life

Healing from the trauma and realizing that it does not define you or your life


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