Post-Traumatic Stress (PTSD) is a condition that is caused by a traumatic life event. Typical events that precipitate PTSD include:
- Colliding with another car
- Your house burning down
- Your business being robbed at gunpoint
- You being the victim of an assault
War is another common precipitator. Since the Vietnam War, we have become aware that PTSD affects a large number of soldiers returning from war. Western Governments have departments dedicated to research and providing treatment for soldiers.
It makes perfect sense that being in a traumatic event would mess with your mind. For instance, if you were in a motor vehicle accident, and had to be hauled from a burning vehicle with special machinery, of course you would be traumatised. You could expect to have flash backs, insomnia, sweating and high anxiety after such an event. You may become afraid to step inside a vehicle again. You may even avoid the road in which it happened.
If these symptoms of PTSD persist for more than one month, psychological treatment is recommended. You would be diagnosed as having primary PTSD.
Secondary PTSD arises in witnesses to a traumatic event. Research has found that the fireman who pulled you out of burning wreckage could develop similar symptoms to you, perhaps to a milder degree.
Tertiary PTSD may be experienced by the wife of the fireman when he describes your horrific accident.
Another illustration could be when a woman has been viciously assaulted. Her solicitor may develop secondary PTSD as a result of documenting every single gory detail. His secretary, who types up the report, can develop tertiary PTSD.
Monitor your feelings and reactions to witnessing a traumatic event, even on the news. Also notice how you react to hearing about a trauma from a third party.
If you experience anxiety symptoms:
- Make sure your basic needs for safety and security are taken care of.
- If your symptoms persist for more than one month, seek professional help.
- Consider changing some of your habits (like watching or discussing the news) to prevent symptoms reoccurring.
Moreover, monitor the reactions of those close to you, especially your children. They are especially vulnerable to watching and hearing about traumatic events. If you suspect they are being traumatised, make changes and seek psychological help.