Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD): Symptoms & Seeking Support

If only one could wave a magic wand to make the bad memories, flashbacks, anxiety and depression disappear. It’s unfortunately not that simple, but there is hope! Expat Nest founder and psychologist Vivian Chiona offers pointers for those seeking support for PTSD.


Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can develop in anyone who has experienced or witnessed (or even heard about) a distressing event. This condition of persistent stress after an injury or severe psychological shock can be distressing and makes it difficult to live fully in the present.

Symptoms of PTSD

If you’re struggling with PTSD, you may be re-experiencing the traumatic event. For example, you may face panic attacks and overwhelming physical reactions due to flashbacks or reminders (triggers) of the event. Many people experience distressing nightmares too, and feelings of depression or anxiety. Other symptoms may include self-blame, shame, guilt, self-hatred, low self-esteem and/or substance abuse.

Seeking support for PTSD

You might feel as if you’ll never recover from your trauma. Often those with PTSD symptoms will project their current feelings into the future, which may seem like a dark future. But it doesn’t have to be this way.

A psychologist who has professional experience with PTSD can help you put the traumatic experience behind you. However, it takes courage to reach out for support. People with PTSD often fear exposing themselves to feelings and situations that remind them of their trauma, including talking about it. A big part of the counsellor’s job is to help you shift this, and to offer you a safe place to do so.

If you’ve decided to seek support from a professional counsellor, the following pointers are helpful to know:

  • It’s important that you feel safe with your therapist.
  • A good therapist will use stress-management techniques to reduce any distress caused by processing a certain emotion or situation. Your therapist needs to be gentle with you.
  • A good therapist will also focus on your beliefs about yourself, your current situation and your future.
  • Online therapy for PTSD, with a good counsellor, is just as effective as face-to-face therapy.
  • Trauma-focused cognitive behavioural therapy is especially effective when working with PTSD. This type of therapy focuses on the client exposing themselves to feelings and situations that remind them of the trauma – but it also focuses on replacing distorted thoughts about the trauma to more balanced thoughts.
  • EMDR (eye movement desensitization and reprocessing) therapy is another effective form of trauma-focused therapy to consider, while TRE (tension and trauma releasing exercises) is a good way to release the trauma in a physical manner when sessions are not taking place.
  • For insight into the body’s role in processing trauma, you may like to read The Body Keeps the Score by Bessel van der Kolk.


Above all, it’s essential to have the right counsellor; someone who is specialised and has experience in helping people with PTSD. Please feel free to reach out to us for a free 15-minute chat if you are struggling and would like guidance on the next steps to take. You are not alone.

This article is adapted from an interview with Vivian Chiona on PTSD – listen here

Have you ever struggled with PTSD? What helped you overcome this? Feel free to share the article with anyone who may be seeking support for PTSD.