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PTSD in nurses: the importance of self-compassion. PTSD in nurses: causes and treatment

Updated: Dec 8, 2023

PTSD in nurses: causes and treatment. PTSD in nurses: the importance of self-compassion

What is trauma and PTSD?

The pandemic has taken its toll on the world, and its effects on mental health are still being addressed, recognized, and resolved over the last two years. Some front-line workers are still coming to terms with how the pandemic has affected them and are beginning their journey to recovery. Talking about trauma and our experiences is the first step to healing what Covid 19 has done to us all.

What is trauma?

Trauma can happen to anyone at any age. Trauma usually involves experiencing a very stressful or frightening event. This may include situations we find traumatic or how we respond to things we experience.

People can react to the same event differently, so just because someone else didn't find it traumatic doesn't mean someone else is deeply affected afterward.

Trauma can affect someone quickly after the troubling experience for a long time afterward. Experiencing trauma can also trigger past experiences, making you feel worse. It is important to remember that even if you are affected by trauma, you survived the events causing the trauma and that it is ok to ask for help.

How might trauma make you feel?

How you feel after a traumatic experience is personal to you. You may feel any combination of the following:

● frightened

● anxious

● abandoned

● invalidated

● unsafe

● unsupported

● powerless

Can trauma cause mental health problems?

Trauma doesn't always lead to mental health problems, but it can make you more susceptible to developing them and directly link with various mental health issues. Some conditions are directly linked with trauma: post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and complex PTSD.

What is PTSD?

PTSD is a psychiatric disorder that may develop after someone has experienced a traumatic event. It can occur in people of all ages, and approximately one in eleven people will be diagnosed with PTSD at some point. Women are twice as likely to experience the condition than men.

How might PTSD make you feel?

PTSD may make you have intense, disturbing thoughts and flashbacks about your traumatic experience.

PTSD symptoms, in general, have four categories.

  1. Intrusion: Dark thoughts and repeated flashbacks, reliving the events.

  2. Avoidance: Avoid reminders of what's happened, including people, places, and objects.

  3. Mood changes: Forgetfulness, negative thoughts towards yourself and others, or being detached from others and emotions.

  4. Changes in arousal and reactivity: Being irritable and angry, taking part in self-destructive behaviours, or being hyper-vigilant.

To be diagnosed with PTSD, you will have experienced symptoms for at least a month, significantly affecting your day-to-day life. Other conditions related to PTSD include Acute stress disorder and Adjustment disorder.

How to treat PTSD

There is a range of treatments that can help relieve and resolve PTSD. These can be used alone or in conjunction with each other.

Treatments include:

● Medication

● Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), along with other therapies

● Complementary and Alternative therapies

Self-reflection questions

Did you work on the front line during the pandemic? Many people find that the effects of traumatic experiences sneak up on them.

Ask yourself these questions to give you more insight into how the pandemic has affected your mental health, and start the healing process today.

  1. Have you been avoiding certain situations, people or places?

  2. Do you often think about events that happened during the height of the pandemic?

  3. Do you blame yourself for things that have happened?

  4. Have you felt more irritable or jumpy recently?

  5. Has your quality of sleep changed?


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