​​A person experiences trauma when an unexpected and overwhelming loss or life-threatening event has happened to them or someone they care about. Trauma can come in the form of a physical trauma, like assault or injury, or a psychological one, like surviving abuse or war. People who survive major traumatic experiences but remain in emotional and psychological distress are deemed to have post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

​​People with PTSD experience a distinct pattern of symptoms that develop in the aftermath of a traumatic event, with symptoms beginning shortly after the event, and possibly lasting for years. The symptoms include:

  • Recurring, intrusive thoughts: re-experiencing the events involuntarily, in the form of recollections, dreams, nightmares, and flashbacks.
  • Hypervigilance: this includes anxiety, irritability, quickness to anger and a sense of feeling exhausted from being continuously alert.
  • Intense psychological distress when exposed to cues that resemble aspects of the traumatic event.
  • Avoidance of anything associated with the traumatic event. One common description is of avoiding watching television or movies for fear of seeing scenes that remind the sufferer of the trauma.
  • A sense of numbness and emotional distancing from others (diminished involvement in activities).
  • A sense of a foreshortened future.

​​PTSD is treated using a combination of medication and therapy.

  • Medication
    Antidepressants are usually prescribed. Other medicines may be given, depending on the symptoms experienced by the individual.
  • Psychotherapy
    The main goals of therapy are to reduce intrusive thoughts, hypervigilance and avoidant behaviour so that the person can continue to lead a better quality of life.

To make an appointment to see a doctor, please call 6389 2200.