Following traumatic experiences such as accidents, assaults, fires, natural disasters or being in life-threatening situations, many people understandably feel distressed, have bad dreams and cannot get memories of the trauma out of their mind. Survivors of trauma may experience feelings of fear, panic, guilt, shame, anger and numbness, making them feel unsafe and vulnerable. People who suffer from PTSD keep reliving the traumatic experience through nightmares and/or flashbacks, feel detached from family and friends, avoid situations or activities which remind them of the event, and their bodies tend to be on 'red alert' for much of the time.
Some traumatic events are so overwhelming that the brain is unable to process them properly and as a result people can experience trauma memories over and over again as if they are still happening. This can cause significant levels of distress due to feeling the same intensity of emotion that was felt at the time of the actual trauma. This is known as a flashback and can lead sufferers to avoid any trigger situations and often results in a high level of anger, anxiety or depression.
These trauma memories need help to become processed and Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (TF-CBT) and Eye Movement Desensitization & Reprocessing (EMDR) are both recommended as effective treatments by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE).