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Post Traumatic
Stress Disorder (PTSD)

What is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)?

After someone experiences a traumatic event (e.g. serious accident or injury, natural disaster, war, physical or sexual assault, etc.), they may develop long-lasting and persistent distressing symptoms that severely impact their daily lives, including their abilities to work, study, and/or relate to others. For some individuals, indirect exposure to the trauma, such as witnessing or learning about the trauma, would be enough for them to develop PTSD. Sadly, many individuals with PTSD often develop other mental health difficulties, such as depression, anxiety or substance dependence, when their everyday life is negatively affected by their PTSD.

Symptoms of PTSD

Common PTSD symptoms can be classified into several categories:


  • Intrusion

    • having unwanted, recurrent, and disturbing memories of the traumatic event

    • re-experiencing the traumatic event repeatedly

    • acting or feeling as if the traumatic event is happening again

    • recurring nightmares


  • Avoidance

    • avoid remembering or talking about the traumatic event due to emotional distress

    • avoiding activities, places or people that are reminders of the traumatic experience

    • inability to remember part of the traumatic event

    • feeling upset when reminded of the event


  • Negative thinking and emotions

    • self-blaming and inappropriate guilt/shame

    • fear of others due to worries of being hurt by them

    • difficulty having loving feelings with friends and family

    • feeling detached from them from friends and family

    • loss of interest in hobbies and interests

    • reduced or lost ability to feel pleasure

    • constantly worrying


  • Increased arousal and reactivity

    • irritation and/or anger outbursts with little or no provocation

    • concentrating problems

    • being startled (“jumpy”) easily

    • hyper-vigilantly looking out for potential threats

    • difficulties with falling or staying asleep

    • impulsive or self-harming behaviours (e.g. substance use, self-cutting, unsafe sex, uncontrolled shopping)


Treatment of PTSD

Several evidence-based treatments are effective for PTSD. With Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT), individuals learn to evaluate their thoughts and beliefs about the trauma and adjust them to be more balanced and realistic, leading to improved emotional and behavioural responses to the trauma.


With Prolonged Exposure (PE) Therapy, psychologists assist individuals to practice repeated exposure to the trauma-related thoughts, feelings, and situations through imaginal or in-vivo (live) exposure exercises. They become less distressed with their trauma-related thoughts, feelings, and situations through repeated exposures.


If you or someone you know is experiencing PTSD, contact us for a free 15-minute consultation to see how we can help you on your path to feeling better. 

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