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What is PTSD?

What is PTSD?

PTSD stands for post-traumatic stress disorder

Here at Combat Stress, we focus on veterans with complex mental health issues – those with several severe mental health conditions which hugely impact on their lives. Here Dr Laura Ferrier explains PTSD and describes how our specialist treatment helps veterans tackle the past and take on the future.


"PTSD is a mental health condition which can occur after being exposed to a traumatic situation. PTSD can be extremely distressing and unpleasant, and it can really impact on how a person is able to function in day to day life."

DR Laura Ferrier, Counselling Psychologist


Trauma means 'injury'. When mental health professionals talk about trauma, they mean something very specific, that is:

An event that was life-threatening or threatened the safety of yourself or others.

Trauma can be something that happened directly to you, something you witnessed happening to somebody else or something you heard about that happened to a close friend or family member.


Some examples might include:

  • seeing a friend or colleague injured
  • coming under enemy fire
  • witnessing the loss of comrades
  • seeing the aftermath of war
  • helping injured civilians including children
  • being bullied or assaulted by military colleagues

You may have experienced trauma that isn't on the list and for some people, difficulties arise due to repeated trauma over time.

PTSD and the brain

PTSD develops as a result of the way in which memories of a traumatic event are stored in the brain. The diagram below takes a look at how we explore the brain before and during trauma. We suggest you begin with the Amydala before reading about the Hippocampus.

Grid showing different stress challenges


Self-help guides developed by the specialist mental health clinicians at Combat Stress