What is Post Traumatic Stress?
(Also known as Shell Shock, Combat Stress, Battle Fatigue and Occupational
Post traumatic stress (PTS) is an acute stress reaction and is caused by
experiences that have felt overwhelming to the nervous system. No human is
immune to post traumatic stress as everyone’s nervous system has a limit.
Individual limits vary from person to person and are influenced by:
The individual personality traits we were born with;
Our early experiences with our carers and the extent to which they were
successful in nurturing feelings of safety and security;
As well as our accumulative experiences of stress.
What are the symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress?
There are three clusters of symptoms with PTS:
* Re experiencing. This is when aspects of the traumatic experience are re
lived over and over often in the form of flashbacks, nightmares, smells and
* Hypervigalence. Being in a constant state of alarm, feeling high levels of
anxiety which can quickly turn to terror or impatience that readily flips into
* Numbing. The body is often flooded with different chemicals that are
produced at times of stress. This can cause shutting down and numbing as well as
strong drives to avoid all reminders of the original trauma. Very often there
are feelings of isolation and a sense of being unreal.
Is it only people who have been in combat who suffer with Post Traumatic
Post traumatic stress can develop in children or adults who have survived
either a single or number of stressful events which were, or were perceived to
be, life threatening.
People who have been in combat can often have an added dimension to their
trauma and this is sometimes called ‘moral injury.’ When people are involved in
acts, or witness events, that go against their deep intrinsic human conscience,
this can result in profound sadness and grief.