Post-traumatic stress disorder

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is an anxiety disorder caused by very stressful, frightening or distressing events.

Symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

Someone with PTSD often relives the traumatic event through nightmares and flashbacks, and may experience feelings of isolation, irritability and guilt.

They may also have problems sleeping, such as insomnia, and find concentrating difficult.

These symptoms are often severe and persistent enough to have a significant impact on the person’s day-to-day life.

Causes of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

Any situation that a person finds traumatic can cause PTSD.

These can include:

  • serious road accidents
  • violent personal assaults, such as sexual assault, mugging or robbery
  • serious health problems
  • childbirth experiences

PTSD can develop immediately after someone experiences a disturbing event, or it can occur weeks, months or even years later.

PTSD is estimated to affect about 1 in every 3 people who have a traumatic experience, but it’s not clear exactly why some people develop the condition and others do not.

Complex post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

People who repeatedly experience traumatic situations, such as severe neglect, abuse or violence, may be diagnosed with complex PTSD.

Complex PTSD can cause similar symptoms to PTSD and may not develop until years after the event.

It’s often more severe if the trauma was experienced early in life, as this can affect a child’s development.

Find out more about complex PTSD

When to get medical advice

It’s normal to experience upsetting and confusing thoughts after a traumatic event, but most people improve naturally over a few weeks.

You should see a GP if you or your child are still having problems about 4 weeks after the traumatic experience, or if the symptoms are particularly troublesome.

If necessary, your GP can refer you to mental health specialists for further assessment and treatment.

How post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is treated

PTSD can be successfully treated, even when it develops many years after a traumatic event.

Any treatment depends on the severity of symptoms and how soon they occur after the traumatic event. 

Any of the following treatment options may be recommended:

  • watchful waiting – monitoring your symptoms to see whether they improve or get worse without treatment
  • antidepressants – such as paroxetine or mirtazapine
  • psychological therapies – such as trauma-focused cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) or eye movement desensitisation and reprocessing (EMDR)

Sleep Apnea

What is Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea is a disorder where breathing is repeatedly interrupted (stops and starts back up) during sleep. Around 1.5 million Britons are affected by sleep apnea, including 4% of males and 2% of females. There are three main types of sleep apnea, these being as follows: 

  • Central Sleep Apnea
  • Complex Sleep Apnea
  • Obstructive Sleep Apnea

Sleep Apnea can be a serious condition and therefore it’s important to speak with your doctor if you think you might have it. Effective treatment such as lifestyle choices or procedures can help to reduce symptoms and prevent complications arising from the disorder.

WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF SLEEP APNEA?

  • Interrupted sleeping
  • Periods in your sleep where breathing stops (noticed by your partner etc.)
  • Having a headache in the morning
  • Insomnia
  • Hypersomnia
  • Snoring loudly
  • Having a dry mouth when waking up

When suffering from any type of sleep issues, these should be discussed with your doctor, as they could lead to serious health conditions when left untreated.

Sleep is an integral part of our health that helps to regulate various different functions and promote overall health and wellbeing. Tackling any issues that you have with your sleep can improve your quality of life.

insomnia

WHAT ARE THE CAUSES OF SLEEP APNEA?

The causes of sleep apnea depend on having one of the three types below: 

Central Sleep Apnea – This occurs when the brain does not send sufficient signals to control breathing whilst asleep. This can result in sufferers having difficulty staying asleep and waking up short of breath. 

There are various factors that could increase your risk of developing central sleep apnea. This type of sleep apnea is more common amongst men and those who are older (middle-aged and above). Those who have had a stroke or suffered from a heart condition can also be more at-risk of developing central sleep apnea.

Obstructive Sleep Apnea – This is caused by the throat muscles relaxing during sleep. This is one of the most common types of sleep apnea. When these throat muscles relax, your airway can narrow, meaning sufferers are not getting enough oxygen into their system. The brain notices this struggle and wakes you up to open this airway. The period of waking is often very brief meaning sufferers do not usually remember waking up. 

There are many factors that can increase the likelihood of obstructive sleep apnea forming; including obesity, smoking, age and gender (men being more likely to have sleep apnea than women).

Complex Sleep Apnea – Complex sleep apnea is a combination of both central and obstructive sleep apnea.

WAYS TO TREAT SLEEP APNEA

The treatment for sleep apnea will depend upon the type you have and the severity of it. For the milder cases of this disorder, you may only be recommended to make lifestyle changes such as quitting smoking or losing weight.

For those with moderate-severe sleep apnea, CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) may be used. This involves using a machine when you sleep, providing air pressure that keeps the airway passages open. This can help to prevent sleep apnea and also the snoring that can come along with it. 

Surgery can also be used but is usually as a last resort when other treatments fail. Surgery for sleep apnea can include removal of tissue in the throat, repositioning of the jaw and when extremely severe having a tracheostomy (making a new airway).

OTHER WAYS TO REDUCE RESTLESS SLEEPS  

There are a whole host of different ways to improve your quality of sleep, one of the most beneficial ways is carrying out regular exercise. Exercise has been known to help you achieve a better quality of sleep, with research suggesting it can reduce the how long it takes to fall asleep whilst increasing how long you sleep for.

Weighted blankets can also help to improve your sleep since the added weight can help the brain to relax and reduce restlessness in bed. Studies have shown that weighted blankets can help to improve sleeping for those who struggle to settle down and also want to achieve deep REM faster.