PTSD is a common condition experienced by many Australians. It can have drastic effects on your quality of life, relationships, and ability to overcome challenges. However, the good news is that treatment is available. If you’re suffering from PTSD, you should know that there is help available.

Let’s take a look at what can cause PTSD, the common symptoms, and some PTSD treatment information.

What is PTSD?

PTSD stands for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. There’s a common misconception out there that it’s a just military condition. While many returned armed forces personnel are susceptible to PTSD because of their traumatic experiences, the truth is that it can affect anybody.

PTSD is a psychiatric disorder that affects people following a traumatic experience. It could be a serious vehicle accident, the loss of a loved one, a violent assault, war or combat situations or many more.

Sufferers of PTSD can experience intense and sometimes frightening thoughts and feelings relating to their traumatic event. While this is common for everybody after such an event, to be diagnosed with PTSD your symptoms would be present for more than a month.

Some of the risks associated with leaving PTSD untreated are:

  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Depression
  • Substance use
  • Memory problems
  • Other physical and mental health problems.

PTSD Symptoms

Sufferers of PTSD can experience a range of different symptoms, and their intensity will differ from person to person. Some common symptoms include:

Intrusive thoughts: Involuntary memories may manifest in the form of nightmares or flashbacks, leaving people with a feeling of reliving their experience over and over.

Avoidance: Avoidance behaviour is prevalent in many mental health conditions, but for PTSD it may be more specific to situations relating to their trauma. For example, car accident survivors may avoid driving. It’s a way of not wanting to be reminded of an event, or even talk about it.

Irrational thoughts and feelings: PTSD sufferers may begin to develop an increasingly negative view on life. They may have thoughts such as “There’s no good in the world,” or “I’ll never be safe.” These irrational fears can lead to further withdrawal from activities, friends and family.

Uncontrolled actions: Sufferers may experience outbursts, difficulty concentration, or even risk-taking and dangerous behaviours.

These symptoms combine to make day to day life extremely difficult for a PTSD, which is why left untreated, the condition can accelerate into other mental and physical conditions.

Is There Treatment Available?

Fortunately, there are several different treatment options for PTSD. It should be noted that not all sufferers require psychiatric treatment, as their symptoms my gradually disappear with time. However, for more acute cases, there are a range of options.

Cognitive therapy: This focuses on challenging the intrusive and negative thoughts, and teaching you to confront those thoughts differently.

Group therapy: Many people have experienced PTSD and recovered. Often, sharing with other sufferers in a controlled environment can be helpful.

Eye-Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing (EMDR): A revolutionary treatment for changing the way your brain processes traumatic memories and feelings.

Exposure therapy: Using the memories of traumatic experiences to cause triggers in a safe, controlled environment. This is designed to help people cope with fear and distress.

All cases are different, and that’s why should always speak to your mental health professional about finding tailored solutions to best help you recover from PTSD.