What Is Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)?
Our ‘What Is … ?’ series is a collection of one-page information handouts for common mental health conditions. Friendly and explanatory, handouts in the series describe how it can feel to struggle with a difficulty and are reliable sources of information for your clients. Drawing upon established cognitive behavioral models, each handout has a particular focus on maintaining factors that might prevent the problem from getting better. What Is Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)? is designed to help clients with PTSD to understand more about their condition.
Many of us will experience trauma at some point in our lives. With time, most people recover from their experiences without needing professional help. However, for a significant proportion of people the effects of trauma last for much longer, and they develop a condition called post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). It is thought that between 3 and 5 people out of every 100 will experience PTSD every year. Fortunately, there are a range of excellent psychological therapies for PTSD.
The What Is Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder? information handout is designed to help clients with PTSD understand more about their condition. It includes:
- A summary of the most common symptoms of PTSD.
- Descriptions of what it can feel like to have PTSD.
- A description of why PTSD might not get better by itself, derived from the Ehlers & Clark (2000) cognitive model of PTSD.
- A brief overview of evidence-based psychological treatments for PTSD.
InstructionsOur ‘What Is … ?’ series is designed to support your clients:
- Reassure and encourage optimism. Many clients find it hugely reassuring to know there is a name for what they are experiencing, and that there are evidence-based psychological models and treatments specifically designed to help.
- Scaffold knowledge. The handouts are perfect during early stages of therapy to help your clients understand how their symptoms fit together and make sense.
- Signposting. If you’re just seeing a client briefly for assessment, or you have a curious client who wants to know more, these resources can be a helpful part of guiding them to the right service.
- American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (DSM-5®). American Psychiatric Pub.
- Courtois, C. A., Sonis, J., Brown, L. S., Cook, J., Fairbank, J. A., Friedman, M., & Schulz, P. (2017). Clinical practice guideline for the treatment of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in adults. American Psychological Association.
- Ehlers, A., & Clark, D. M. (2000). A cognitive model of posttraumatic stress disorder. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 38(4), 319-345.
- Kessler, R. C., Chiu, W. T., Demler, O., & Walters, E. E. (2005). Prevalence, severity, and co-morbidity of 12-month DSM-IV disorders in the National Comorbidity Survey Replication. Archives of General Psychiatry, 62(6), 617-627.
- National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (2018). Post-traumatic stress disorder. Retrieved from: https://www.nice.org.uk/guidance/ng116/resources/posttraumatic-stress-disorder-pdf-66141601777861
- World Health Organization. (2019). ICD-11: International classification of diseases (11th revision). Retrieved from https://icd.who.int/