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    Private GP Services & Occupational Healthcare in Edinburgh, UK.

    Understanding PTSD

    Understanding PTSD

    Posted on June 1st, 2024

    The term “shell shock” was first coined in 1917 by Charles Myers, a medical officer in World War One. Symptoms of shell shock were initially believed to be caused by physical damage to the nerves, resulting from the use of heavy artillery and loud explosions during the Great War. However, our understanding of shell shock has developed considerably since the war years, and we now understand many soldiers were actually experiencing PTSD (posttraumatic stress disorder) as a result of the frightening experiences they lived through and the distressing things they witnessed.

    We also now understand that PTSD doesn’t just affect soldiers. In fact, according to PTSD UK, 4 in 100 people in the UK have PTSD at any given time. And yet, as with many mental health conditions, we as a society still have a way to go in terms of recognising and understanding PTSD. And so, to coincide with PTSD Awareness Month, the health experts at YourGP discuss the common causes and the help that is available to those who need it.

    What is PTSD?

    When faced with danger, a human’s natural response is “fight or flight”. The release of adrenaline and cortisol helps us to defend ourselves against harm. But when danger has passed, if it was a particularly frightening or distressing experience, these fight or flight hormones can remain at an elevated level and the thoughts and feelings associated with the dangerous situation can stay with a person for days, weeks, months and even years after the event. If these thoughts and feelings have a negative impact on the person’s everyday life, it is possible they may have PTSD.

    Common causes of PTSD

    Whilst many people still associate PTSD with war, the reality is that any frightening or distressing event which poses a threat of injury or death has the potential to cause PTSD. Common examples include:

    • Childhood abuse
    • Domestic abuse
    • Physical or sexual assault
    • Traumatic birth experience
    • Being involved in a serious accident

    Symptoms of PTSD often become apparent immediately after the event, however in some cases they can be delayed and take months or even years to manifest.

    Symptoms of PTSD

    Everyone is different and some may experience some or all of the following at various times:

    • Re-experiencing: Feeling like you are reliving the traumatic event either through flashbacks or nightmares.
    • Avoidance: Refusing to discuss the event, see particular people or places that remind you of the event.
    • Hyperarousal: Feeling constantly on edge, leading to issues such as insomnia, poor concentration, irritability and angry outbursts.

    Issues associated with PTSD

    PTSD can also manifest in other ways, including physical pain, dizziness and nausea. It can lead to problems with anxiety and depression, or self-harm and destructive behaviour such as drug and alcohol misuse.

    Treating PTSD

    Whether you have suffered a recent trauma or there is something from your childhood that is still negatively impacting your life, it is never too late to reach out and ask for help. Talking therapies such as CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) and EMDR (eye movement desensitisation and reprocessing) can make a huge improvement to the way you think and feel about a past event. Antidepressants can also help to get past the repetitive, intrusive thoughts and feelings. But to find the right treatment for you, it is important to speak to your GP.

    Turn to the trusted experts at YourGP

    If the aftermath of a traumatic event is negatively impacting your life, turn to YourGP. Our extended appointments enable you to take all the time you need to open up, and our highly qualified and experienced GPs can provide you with all the help and support you deserve. Just book an appointment at YourGP via our simple online booking system, email reception@your.gp, or call us on 0131 225 5656 and we’ll be happy to arrange an appointment at a time that suits you.

    Received injections from Lynn at the surgery. Hadn’t had an injection in 12 years, so was terrified walking through the front door at first. My mind was put at ease instantly. Very nice people, was given lots of great advice, and the injections were a piece of cake. Couldn’t be happier. Recommended!

    Lee S

    YourGP is regulated by Healthcare Improvement Scotland – the regulator for independent healthcare services across Scotland. Healthcare Improvement Scotland accepts complaints at any time. Contact them at:

    Independent Healthcare Team
    Gyle Square | 1 South Gyle Crescent | Edinburgh | EH12 9EB
    0131 623 4342 | his.ihcregulation@nhs.scot

    YourGP is registered with the Joint Council of Cosmetic Practitioners (JCCP) Registered Office: Station Road, North Street, Havant PO9 1QU.