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Understanding Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Published on 28 February 2024

Post-traumatic stress disorder is a treatable condition that can occur after you experience a frightening event. It can range in severity from being unable to sleep to feeling like you’re having a breakdown and will never be able to forget the event.

PTSD can affect anyone, irrespective of age, background, or profession. The trauma from PTSD can leave a normally confident, strong person feeling vulnerable and no longer able to carry out their everyday life. This can affect people close to them, which is why understanding PTSD and its causes is important.

This article explores the reasons for PTSD and what you can do to deal with it, both as a sufferer and as a friend or family member of someone undergoing this terrifying condition.

What is Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder?

PTSD disrupts the normal functioning of the brain and triggers persistent psychological symptoms after a traumatic event. Unlike typical responses to stress, PTSD involves an intense emotional reaction that can continue long after the traumatic incident takes place.

People with PTSD often experience the ‘fight or flight’ feeling that occurs with an adrenalin rush when in a dangerous situation. The disorder affects your sense of safety and well-being, making you feel insecure.

Avoidance of reminders associated with the event is a characteristic feature of PTSD. Sufferers may go to great lengths to steer clear of anything triggering recollections of the traumatic experience.

Understanding PTSD can help you learn how to deal with it.

What causes Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder?

PTSD symptoms can take a while to develop after a traumatic event, sometimes years or they can show immediately.  The cause of the event makes no difference to how quickly PTSD begins – it depends on the person.

Some of the causes of PTSD include:

  • Accidents – from being in a traffic accident, knocked down by a vehicle or off a bicycle to falling over.
  • Death – experiencing the loss of a loved one, especially when unexpected.
  • Physical or sexual assault – undergoing the breach of personal boundaries, either through violence or rape.
  • Childhood abuse – the effects of this can appear when you are an adult, many years after the event.
  • Natural disasters – floods, earthquakes and hurricanes can all destroy homes and our safety net.
  • War – exposure to combat and life-threatening situations.
  • Terror attacks – being a target or ‘in the wrong place at the wrong time’.

All of the above can have serious consequences for a person’s mental health. They are situations that we don´t expect to find ourselves in and PTSD is a coping mechanism.

Good to know....

1 in 3 people who undergo a distressing experience can develop PTSD [1].

What are the symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder?

A variety of symptoms can be a sign of PTSD, which can be extremely distressing. These typically last for a month or more and begin to affect daily life. The severity and duration of symptoms can vary depending on the situation. Understanding PTSD and its symptoms is the first step to facing the condition.

The symptoms fall into 4 categories:


  • Flashbacks – replaying the event in your mind
  • Nightmares
  • Upsetting thoughts – remembering the details of the event



  • Mood swings and irritability
  • Signs of causing anxiety or depression
  • Detachment – not being able to interact with others
  • Lack of interest in activities such as sports or hobbies
  • Memory loss
  • Feeling to blame for the event
  • Negative or suicidal thoughts
  • Inability to feel happy (often due to feelings of guilt)



  • Not talking about the experience
  • Avoiding places or situations that are a reminder of the event



  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Feeling nervous and easily startled
  • Insomnia
  • Becoming angry for no reason
  • Taking unnecessary risks due to feeling invincible


It’s important to get a medical opinion if any of the above appear after a traumatic event, even if it occurred several years ago. This is a condition that is far more common than you may think and specialists who are experts in understanding PTSD are trained to deal with trauma recovery.

Good to know...

PTSDUK estimates that 1 in 10 people in the UK will experience PTSD during their lifetime. This equates to 6.7 million of the population [1].

How do you explain Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder to a loved one?

As human beings, we all deal with upsetting situations differently. Some people seem to go through life not being affected by traumatic events while others succumb to severe symptoms such as panic and nightmares.

The profound psychological impact of PTSD requires understanding and support from both individuals in the affected person’s life and mental health professionals. Understanding PTSD is crucial both for the sufferer and those around them.

You and your loved ones should also be aware that there is no stigma attached to this condition.

Explaining your feelings to a loved one will help them understand what you are going through. You may not feel ready to talk about the event, and perhaps never will. Or you might want to speak about it constantly in graphic detail.

Telling your friends and family this will help them comprehend how you are coping with PTSD. Their support and care, along with the right PTSD treatment can assist the path to recovery.

Describing the feelings caused by PTSD to a loved one is asking them to recognize the invisible struggle you’re going through. There may be no exterior sign of anguish or injury, but inside you are dealing with a complex situation.

Ask the people who care about you to go at your pace and not push you for answers. This will be a challenge for them too, as they offer you the patience and support you need to heal from the lasting impact of the traumatic experience.

Does PTSD ever go away?

The impact of PTSD varies among different people and their reactions to the event.

With appropriate treatment and support, people can find ways to manage their symptoms effectively, leading to an improved quality of life. Recovery is a gradual process, and the goal is often symptom management and understanding PTSD rather than complete eradication of all symptoms.

People with PTSD should seek help from a professional who specializes in trauma and mental health, as a tailored approach can significantly enhance their ability to cope and lead a fulfilling life.

After treatment, some people may experience occasional symptoms throughout their lives, while others might recover, however, there is always a risk that the memories will reoccur.

What are effective treatments for PTSD?

Psychotherapy and medications, such as anti-depressants are often used to treat PTSD. These may be used individually or together.

Talking to a specialist who is an expert in understanding PTSD can help you deal with the triggers and learn how to manage the symptoms when they occur.

You may be advised to try PTSD therapy before taking medication. If your doctor prescribes anti-depressants it is not necessarily because you are depressed. These work by acting on the release of serotonin in your brain which could be contributing to the symptoms.

Following a healthy diet and getting plenty of exercise can also help manage the symptoms of PTSD. In addition, you could also incorporate Lactium® in your diet, which is a natural way to help you feel calm.


To find out which products containing Lactium® are suitable for you, contact us!