Understanding PTSD

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Understanding PTSD

Dr Frank Chow, Psychiatrist is passionate about the correct diagnosis of PTSD, its management, and recently presented ‘Understanding PTSD’.

On Tuesday, 10th October, Dr Chow discussed the challenges of making a clear PTSD diagnosis, based on a checklist of symptoms and the subjective experience of a person having what they perceive to be a life threatening experience. Put simply, Dr Chow explained PTSD as an anxiety disorder and needs to be managed very carefully in order not to exacerbate the suffering.

Dr Chow explained that PTSD sufferers have changes in their biology, psyche and behaviour – many of which they are not aware of. A variety of adaptive and maladaptive coping mechanisms may be utilised by sufferers with a firm PTSD diagnosis sometimes taking many years to happen.

Dr Chow outlined the best treatment approaches including:

  • Educating sufferers regarding the nature of the condition to help develop insight into their fears
  • Using medication in the short term to reduce biological symptoms
  • Encouraging a co-ordinated approach with the sufferer’s family, clinicians and insurers.
  • Addressing  the sufferer’s underlying fears (and many PTSD sufferers may need help to understand what their fears are)
  • Helping sufferers process their trauma through exposure therapy and EMDR to reduce psychological hyperarousal symptoms ( without re-traumatising the sufferer)
  • Helping the sufferer find a new identity and motivations
  • Encouraging a co-ordinated approach with the sufferer’s family, clinicians and insurers.

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