4 Common Misconceptions about PTSD and How CBT can Support Recovery
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental health condition where someone has been through or witnessed a traumatic situation. The development of the disorder depends on how an individual copes with the experience, rather than the severity of the experience.
New research from King’s College London suggests one in 13 young people in the UK have had post-traumatic stress disorder before reaching age 18.
The four biggest misconceptions associated with PTSD, are:
- Military veterans are the only ones who get PTSD
- PTSD is a chronic condition that can’t be treated
- Everyone who has PTSD is prone to violent behaviour
- Having PTSD is a sign of weakness
Firstly, PTSD is commonly linked to military veterans and those who have experienced war to some degree. While these individuals must address their struggles, people often don’t know that PTSD is common for those that are outside of combat too.
“The prevalence of current symptoms of PTSD was 5.5 %. Women were more likely to screen positive (6.4 %) than men (3.6 %), and symptoms of PTSD were high in the unemployed (12.5 %), in those not working because of health reasons (18.2 %) and in the lowest household income group (14.8 %)” – Trauma and current symptoms of PTSD in a South East London community
PTSD affects many people but also has a significant effect on the workforce.
Below is a list of some issues where PTSD can arise from:
- Life-threatening diagnosis
- Refugees and asylum seekers
- Miscarriage or abortion
- Sexual assault
- Breakdown of relationship (e.g. divorce)
- Road traffic accident
- Natural disaster
- Being bullied
- Bereavement (e.g. the actual death of someone)
- ICU survivors
All the above are difficult experiences for people, and the feelings, thoughts and emotions that come with them can stick around long after the experience itself. People living with PTSD (and complex PTSD) often suffer for months or years before finding treatment.
PTSD and trauma symptoms can vary in intensity over time. When stressed in other areas of your life or when you run into reminders of a traumatic event, your symptoms can intensify. For example, if you see a report on the news about a sexual assault, you may feel overcome by memories of your own attack. When a car backfires, you may relive a traumatic combat experience.
A particular concern following the Covid-19 pandemic is those discharged from ICU. Being in intensive care is frightening. There was a specific risk to their own life because they were very ill with minimal information available to medical staff on treatment and scary statistics shared across all media outlets.
Doctors and nurses treating ICU patients wore protective equipment, and with relatives banned from visiting, it is considered a very traumatic experience in a variety of ways.
People react to traumatic experiences in several ways. Symptoms of trauma can naturally dissipate after several weeks, however, if signs of trauma continue for longer than a month, PTSD may be present.
Trauma symptoms vary from person to person, but some common symptoms to look out for include:
- Irrational and intense fear
- Reduced tolerance to noise (hyperacusis)
- Difficulty concentrating
- Intense physical reactions to reminders of the event (e.g. pounding heart, nausea, muscle tension, sweating)
- Increased anxiety and emotional arousal
- Hypervigilance (On constant ‘red alert’)
- Irritability or outbursts of anger
- Being easily moved to tears
- Panic attacks/anxiety/depression/mood swings
- Feeling jumpy and easily startled
- Difficulty falling or staying asleep
- Tense muscles
People who have PTSD typically tend to re-experience a traumatic event through nightmares, flashbacks and distressing recollections of the situation. Sufferers may also experience emotional numbness and try to avoid trigger situations that remind them of their initial trauma. For example, avoid walking past any cemeteries due to the reminder of losing a loved one suddenly.
It’s essential to address how you feel when you have been through or witnessed something traumatic and be aware that it’s normal to struggle with these emotions. That is what Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is there to address.
It is possible to be successfully treated for PTSD years after the trauma, so it’s never too late to seek help.
The chosen treatment for PTSD is CBT, and trauma-focused CBT is recommended by NICE (the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence) for those with severe symptoms. NICE also identifies that EDMR (Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing) has an emerging and increasing evidence base in the treatment of PTSD.
Why choose Onebright for your PTSD recovery?
- We have excellent recovery rates in the treatment of PTSD.
- We are BABCP accredited – The highest gold standard that a CBT psychotherapist can achieve.
- We have an 87% recovery rate – This exceeds industry standards which on average report a 52% recovery rate.
- Rapid service – You don’t have to worry about battling long waiting lists to speak to someone and start feeling better. You can begin the online or remote therapy program within days.
- If in London, our CBT services are easily accessible to treat you.