post traumatic help
If something traumatic happens to you and you notice a change in the way you feel and behave, you should talk to someone you trust. This could be a friend, your parents, school counsellor, or your GP.
It is normal to experience symptoms of PTSD for the first few weeks following the trauma. However, if you are still having symptoms after a month it is worth talking to your GP. The GP should offer you some therapy to try and deal with what has happened and your thoughts and behaviours.
You should not be offered a one-off session of psychotherapy sometimes known as a debriefing just after the traumatic event as researchers have found that this can make things worse. You shouldn’t be offered medication and if your GP does prescribe you medication you should ask why they think this will help you.
Nice is the National Institute of Health and Clinical Excellence and they produce guidelines for health professionals. Nice guidelines on PTSD show that you should be offered CBT or EMDR (types of therapy) before medication. They also state that that healthcare professionals should point out that only psychological treatments that are designed for PTSD should be used to treat PTSD as there is little evidence at the moment to show that other treatments (such as play therapy, art therapy and family therapy) can help young people with PTSD.
You may be offered trauma-based cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT). This is a talking therapy which focuses on the memories, thoughts and feelings that people have that are connected to the traumatic event. It involves talking to a healthcare professional about what happened and how it made you feel. You will be offered help to cope with any emotional distress that may arise from talking about what happened. You may be offered this if your problems are quite severe, and it is a month after the event.
If you have had PTSD for months or even years, you should be offered a psychological treatment. The Nice guidelines say that you should normally see your doctor between 8 and 12 times (at least once a week). Each meeting should usually last for 1 hour, but when you talk about what happened to you, the meeting should usually last for about an hour and half. The same doctor should see you for all of your meetings.
You may also be offered EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitisation & Reprocessing).This is a technique which uses eye movements to help the brain to process flashbacks and to make sense of the traumatic experience. It may sound odd, but it has been shown to work.
A healthcare professional will help you to look at your memories of the trauma (including all of the negative thoughts and feelings and sensations experienced at the time of the event). EMDR aims to change how you feel about these memories and helps you to have more positive emotions, behaviour and thoughts.
There are things you can do to help.
- keep life as normal as possible
- get back to your usual routine
- talk about what happened with someone you trust
- try doing things to help you to relax
- go back to school, college or work
- exercise regularly
- eat properly
- spend time with family and friends
- speak to a doctor
A lack of trust is central to PTSD and treatment may need to be longer to enable you to build a trusting relationship with your therapist to show you that not all people you trust will hurt you.
This will be done by:-
1) Learning how to understand and control your distress and cutting off from other people
2) Disconnecting the physical symptoms of fear and anxiety from the memories
3) Starting to live a normal day-to-day life without the flashbacks or anxiety
You will also be offered CBT or EMDR and may be offered medication.