Psychological trauma manifests in many ways, from mild disturbance on being reminded of traumatic events through to full-blown PTSD. PTSD is a carefully defined medical and legal entity, and not everyone with post-traumatic symptoms will qualify for a diagnosis. However, if you are experiencing psychological distress, including PTSD, we can usually help you if you have been in the UK armed forces.
If you think you are suffering from psychological trauma and symptoms, these are the kinds of problems you may be experiencing:
You may find that memories of events come back at any time, triggering the same feelings you had at the time. Nightmares and flashbacks are classic examples of this, but you may also experience smells, or physical tension. You may actually re-live the event, experiencing it as if you were actually back there. These episodes are sometimes triggered by something you see, hear or smell - a news item on TV, seeing an accident or injury or hearing a loud noise are common types of triggers, though it can be something much less obvious.
As a result you may quite reasonably be avoiding situations that could generate reminders of the past, keeping away from crowds because they feel dangerous, for example. You feel unhappy about driving or even leaving your house, assuming you feel secure there. People sometimes take to the woods or create some other kind of safe place where they can lie low and/or keep a good lookout. Many people try to keep busy to avoid thinking about the past, and may avoid seeking help for the same reason.
At the same time you think about yourself and others differently, finding it hard to feel positive emotions or take part in relationships. Concentrating can be a problem and memory can change - you may forget about some events, or find them too distressing to talk about. Other people, and the world itself, can seem terribly dangerous and untrustworthy - you might find yourself keeping your back to a wall in a restaurant or waiting room. You may feel keyed-up, jittery and angry for no reason you can see, and sleep can be difficult to get and disturbed by dark dreams.