Traumatic experiences are events which fall outside of the range of normal human experience. These include accidents, natural disasters, assaults, violence and abuse. These experiences are so exceptional and traumatic that they overwhelm our ability to process them and create a loss of our sense of inner and outer safety and security.
The Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) can adversely affect all areas of the sufferer´s life. The most typical symptom is the involuntary re-experiencing of the traumatic event through, for example, nightmares or repeated flashbacks. Memories of the traumatic event are frequently experienced so vividly that the sufferer experiences them as if they were reoccurring. Consequently, sufferers often try to avoid anything which might remind them of the traumatic event, such as specific places or talking about the events.
Primary symptoms may be feelings of anxiety, anger, grief and helplessness, or alternatively numbness or inner emptiness. The vulnerability for physical symptoms and diseases increases; as does the occurence of a constant headache, stomach ache and indigestion.
Sufferers might find it difficult to remember the traumatic event or parts of it. This is caused by the most important defense mechanism of our brain that is activated in the very moment of the traumatisation: the so called “dissociation“, meaning the splitting-off of the experienced event that is too overwhelming to be kept in our everyday-consciousness. This does not only influence our memory and self-perception, but might, depending on its severity, affect deeply our sense of identity.
People who experienced severe and long-term traumatisation also often suffer from difficulties of regulating their emotions, self-harming behavior and chronic sensations of meaning- and hopelessness or even perseverative suicidal thoughts.