Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a common anxiety condition that effects almost 12% of Australians in their lifetime. Although stereotypically known by veterans and those who have completely military service, serious car accidents and acts of violence are the most common causes of PTSD.

Common causes of PTSD

Of all people who experience a traumatic event, approximately one quarter of these people will develop PTSD. Although commonly associated with veterans and people of military service, serious car accidents are the most common causes of PTSD. Physical or sexual assault, severe emotional manipulation and relational conflict, and natural disasters are also common contributors.

The development of PTSD can also arise due to second-hand trauma: perhaps seeing an incident occur, or supporting a loved one who has experienced a traumatic event.

 

Signs and Symptoms

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is characterised by symptoms of anxiety, both emotional and physical. Symptoms of PTSD may become present immediately after the traumatic event, or may arise weeks or even years after the event.

Emotional symptoms of PTSD are intrusive, often contributing to a detached or depressed demeanour. People experiencing PTSD may experience flashback or nightmares of the traumatic event, and they may seem frequently distracted. Avoidance of reminders or “triggers” can also lead individuals to feel either numb or highly vigilant and anxious in the absence of any direct threat.

 

Clinical approach and diagnoses

Recovery for PTSD is possible with the correct therapeutic approach. Research has shown that those experiencing PTSD tend to respond well to non-traditional ancillary therapies, such as equine therapy, music therapy, and art therapy. Counselling and emotional therapies operate to equip individuals to cope with intrusive thoughts, but also promote healing and restoration.

Time is not a healer of PTSD. Individuals may begin experiencing symptoms of PTSD days, weeks or even years after the initial traumatic event.