Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

Traumatic events can have lasting effects on individuals and lead to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Many adult mental health disorders connect to trauma – either something that happened recently or in a person’s early years.

If you or a loved one is living with long-term distress, you might have trouble knowing what to do. You may feel tense or anxious and re-experience the traumatic event. Our specialists can perform a PTSD assessment and recommend the appropriate therapy to help, such as CBT and EMDR.

What is Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)?

PTSD is an anxiety disorder. This mental health condition can develop after a single or multiple traumatic events. An event that you find significantly distressing or disturbing is called a traumatic event. 
These events can cause a temporary disruption to your usual routine as you adjust to your experience. However, if you experience symptoms months or years later, you may have PTSD. We discuss these symptoms further on. Another type of PTSD is complex PTSD. 

Complex PTSD

Experiencing multiple traumatic events or ongoing trauma can lead to complex PTSD (C-PTSD). You might struggle to control your emotions or find it hard to trust anyone. We discuss this further on our Complex PTSD page. Read on to learn about the signs of PTSD. 


PTSD symptoms can develop gradually. 

Constant, severe emotional upheaval can seriously harm your relationships and career.

While trauma can have various effects, most people develop one or more of the symptoms below:

Less interest in life, difficulty concentrating, feeling tense or irritable

General nervousness, anxiety, or depression or obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)

Flashbacks of the traumatic event – this may lead to avoidance of situations and people that are related to it.

Exaggerated feelings of isolation, irritability and guilt

Poor sleep (insomnia or nightmares)

Self-harm or other unhelpful behaviour (such as substance abuse)

Physical symptoms

The hormones cortisol and adrenaline, released due to a threat response, can cause physical symptoms of PTSD. You may experience physical symptoms, such as

  • Pain, including chest pain or headaches
  • Tinnitus
  • Sweating, trembling, increased heart rate or blood pressure
  • Panic attacks
  • Digestive problems
  • Aggressive behaviour
  • Skin scars easier after injury


Symptoms of PTSD may occur consistently, or you may have a trigger that sets them off. A trigger can be anything that reminds you of the traumatic event or causes a flashback. 

Typical triggers include loud noises or voices, physical resemblance to an abuser, and specific words or words spoken in a certain way. Smells, colours, arguments, similar environments or objects, and medical care can also act as triggers.

When should I seek help?

You should see a specialist as soon as possible if:

Your symptoms are severe

You aren’t recovering after a few weeks

The trauma prevents you from functioning normally in your daily life

You may not experience the signs of PTSD immediately. If your symptoms develop after six months or more, we call this delayed-onset PTSD.

What causes Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)?

Trauma causes PTSD. People suffer trauma when they go through painful or unsettling life events, as we discussed above. The trauma may have occurred recently or be a past event. You may have experienced it directly or witnessed it.

They can be major one-time events, such as

  • Being in a serious accident
  • Violent personal assault
  • A severe health problems
  • Pregnancy complications (birth trauma)

Or there can be a series of smaller but prolonged events. These may build up to cause extreme distress, such as ongoing family or work problems, abuse and discrimination. 

In isolation, these events may not trigger a traumatic reaction. But it can become overwhelming when bad things happen repeatedly or all at once. 

Not every traumatic experience will lead to PTSD (according to the NHS, it’s about one in three).

Secondary Trauma

If a loved one has experienced trauma and you have PTSD symptoms while supporting them, you may have secondary trauma. We also call this secondary traumatic stress.

Secondary trauma means someone else’s trauma is impacting your life. Though, it can be just as distressing as the primary trauma, leading to PTSD.


To successfully assess your condition, we need you to share as much as you are comfortable with about your symptoms. During your assessment, we will ask how severe your symptoms are and how long you have experienced them.

Everyone can relate to trauma, but most people find it difficult to talk about it. As a result, we take the time to get to know you and develop a trusting working relationship.

PTSD test

You can receive a PTSD test, also known as a PTSD assessment, through the NHS or privately. You may see PTSD tests online in the form of quizzes. While an online PTSD test may help you decide whether to seek professional help, it cannot replace a medical diagnosis.

Our clinical psychologists will ask you to complete a questionnaire to get a first impression of your mental well-being. This enables us to investigate further to determine your needs. 

We also carry out a one-to-one assessment interview. After this, we will put together a recommended treatment plan. We will provide a detailed explanation of your treatment plan, and you can ask us any questions.

If you experience symptoms for a short time, you may have acute stress disorder. Acute stress disorder presents with similar symptoms to PTSD. Other related conditions include adjustment disorder, generalised anxiety disorder (GAD), and dissociative disorders.

Treatments for PTSD

Trauma can affect anyone at any age. An adverse experience can negatively impact a person’s mental, physical, and social health. What you do next is crucial to prevent a short-term trauma from developing into a long-term mental health disorder. 

Some people find that temporary distractions and relaxation techniques relieve their symptoms. But, planning a trigger reaction can be hard to do alone. Our trauma treatment programme is comprehensive and evidence-based. Different treatments are available based on the type of trauma and your specific PTSD symptoms.

Cognitive behavioural therapy

Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is an effective treatment for PTSD. It’s a talk-based psychological therapy that we can customise to suit your needs.

Trauma-focussed cognitive behavioural therapy offers a way to: 

Break negative thinking patterns 

Stop self-destructive reactions

Express feelings

CBT aims to teach you ways to reframe unhelpful thoughts, improve your feelings and change behaviour for the better.


There is growing support for EMDR therapy in treating trauma and PTSD symptoms. EMDR stands for eye movement desensitisation and reprocessing.

EMDR allows people to address difficult experiences that have overwhelmed their coping mechanisms. During treatment, patients reprocess painful memories until they become less disruptive. We highly recommend EMDR therapy for people experiencing complex PTSD.


Book an appointment for a PTSD assessment

If you or someone in your family shows signs of PTSD, please arrange an initial consultation so we can explore how to help. At Kove, we specialise in PTSD assessments and customised therapy interventions. 

We are happy to answer any questions you have about our PTSD therapy and testing for PTSD.

Other Treatments

EMDR Therapy Kove


Experience effective EMDR therapy at Kove in London. Our expert therapists provide a safe space for healing trauma and mental health issues. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.

Adult OCD Therapy


If you’re struggling with intrusive thoughts or compulsive behaviors associated with OCD, know that there is help available. Our team of experts is here to provide you with the support and treatment you need to manage your symptoms and regain control. Don’t let OCD control your life any longer. Reach out to us today.

Private Counselling


At Kove in London, we provide a safe and supportive environment for healing through counselling. Our experienced therapists offer judgement-free sessions to help you work through your difficulties. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.

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