PTSD, or posttraumatic stress disorder, is a set of reactions that can occur after someone has been through a traumatic event. The chance of developing PTSD depends on the type of event experienced, but about 5 to 10% of Australians will suffer from PTSD at some point in their lives.
Could I have posttraumatic stress disorder?
The main symptoms of PTSD are:
- Re-living the traumatic event through distressing, unwanted memories, vivid nightmares and/or flashbacks. This can also include feeling very upset or having intense physical reactions such as heart palpitations or being unable to breathe when reminded of the traumatic event.
- Avoiding reminders of the traumatic event, including activities, places, people, thoughts or feelings that bring back memories of the trauma.
- Negative thoughts and feelings such as fear, anger, guilt, or feeling flat or numb a lot of the time. A person might blame themselves or others for what happened during or after the traumatic event, feel cut-off from friends and family, or lose interest in day-to-day activities.
- Feeling wound-up. This might mean having trouble sleeping or concentrating, feeling angry or irritable, taking risks, being easily startled, and/or being constantly on the lookout for danger.
- It is not unusual for people with PTSD to experience other mental health problems as well, like depression or anxiety. Some people may develop a habit of using alcohol or drugs as a way of coping.
Mark describes some of the symptoms he was suffering that led him to be diagnosed with PTSD.
If you have experienced something traumatic and are still having problems two weeks or more later, talk to your GP or a mental health professional.
If you are struggling to cope after a traumatic event, talk to your GP. You don’t need to keep feeling like this. Effective treatments are available and you can get better.