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Post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, is a debilitating mental disorder that follows experiencing or witnessing an extremely traumatic, tragic, or terrifying event.
People with PTSD usually have persistent frightening thoughts and memories of their ordeal and can also feel emotionally numb, especially with people they were once close to.
Types of event which can lead to PTSD include:
The onset of PTSD can happen immediately after someone experiences a disturbing event, or many years later, known as delayed onset PTSD. The main symptoms of PTSD are:
PTSD can occur at any age, including childhood. The disorder can be accompanied by depression, substance abuse, or anxiety.
Symptoms may be mild or severe. In severe cases, the individual may have trouble working or socialising. In general, the symptoms seem to be worse if the event that triggered them was initiated by a person, such as a murder, as opposed to a natural disaster (eg a flood).
You and your CBT therapist will discuss your specific difficulties and set goals for you to achieve. CBT is not a quick fix. It involves hard work during and between sessions. Your therapist will not tell you what to do. Instead they will help you decide what difficulties you want to work on in order to help you improve your situation. Your therapist will be able to advise you on how to continue using TF-CBT techniques in your daily life after your treatment ends.
Some of the aims of TF-CBT in treating PTSD are:
Let's Talk About CBT is a podcast about CBT: what it is, what it's not and how it can be useful. Dr Lucy Maddox interviews experts in the field including people who have experienced CBT for themselves. Each episode includes a mix of interviews, myth-busting and explains CBT jargon.
You can download our podcast - CBT for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
See how CBT helped others deal with PTSD - read Nick's story
You can download a pdf version of the information contained on this page here.
National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) guidelines for post-traumatic stress disorder