PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) is a mental health problem that some people develop after experiencing or witnessing a life-threatening event, like combat, a natural disaster, a car accident, or sexual assault.

A sudden illness, an accident or an assault - these are all traumatic experiences which can upset and distress us. They arouse powerful and disturbing feelings in us, which usually settle in time without any professional help.  After a traumatic event you may feel: stunned or dazed or numb, cut off from your feelings, or from what is going on around you.

You can't accept that it has happened - so you behave as though it hasn't. Other people may think that you are being strong, or that you don't care about what has happened.  Over several hours or days, the feelings of shock gradually fade and other thoughts and feelings take their place. People react differently and take different amounts of time to come to terms with what has happened. Even so, you may be surprised by the strength of your feelings after an event.  

You may feel,

  • Frightened that the same thing will happen again;
  • Helpless, vulnerable overwhelmed, that something really bad happened and you could do nothing about it;  
  • Angry about what has happened; and perhaps guilty, ashamed or embarrassed that you have survived when others have suffered or died;
  • Sad, particularly if people were injured or killed, especially someone you knew.

However, the list is not exhaustive but gives an indication of feelings you may experience.

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