News June 2021
National PTSD awareness day
Each year on June 27th, National PTSD Awareness Day recognizes the effects post-traumatic stress has on the lives of those impacted by it.
What is PTSD?
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD is a disorder characterised by a failure to recover after experiencing or witnessing a traumatic event. The condition may last months or years, with triggers that can bring back memories of the trauma accompanied by intense emotional and physical reactions.
Unfortunately, many people who live with PTSD don’t get treatment because they do not recognise their symptoms as PTSD, do not know how to access treatment, or do not seek help because of stigma.
Fortunately, there are treatments for PTSD that work: recovery and renewal is always possible.
PTSD symptoms are generally grouped into four types:
1. Intrusive memories
Symptoms of intrusive memories may include:
- Recurrent, unwanted distressing memories of the traumatic event
- (flashbacks) Reliving the traumatic event as if it were happening again
- Upsetting dreams or nightmares about the traumatic event
- Severe emotional distress or physical reactions to something that reminds you of the traumatic event
Symptoms of avoidance may include:
- Trying to avoid thinking or talking about the traumatic event
- Avoiding places, activities or people that remind you of the traumatic event
- Negative changes in thinking and mood
Symptoms of negative changes in thinking and mood may include:
- Negative thoughts about yourself, other people or the world
- Hopelessness about the future
- Memory problems, including not remembering important aspects of the traumatic event
- Difficulty maintaining close relationships
- Feeling detached from family and friends
- Lack of interest in activities you once enjoyed
- Difficulty experiencing positive emotions
- Feeling emotionally numb
3. Changes in physical and emotional reactions
- Being easily startled or frightened
- Always being on guard for danger
- Self-destructive behavior, such as drinking too much or driving too fast
- Trouble sleeping
- Trouble concentrating
- Irritability, angry outbursts or aggressive behavior
- Overwhelming guilt or shame
4. Intensity of symptoms
PTSD symptoms can vary in intensity over time. You may have more PTSD symptoms when you’re stressed in general, or when you come across reminders of what you went through. For example, you may hear a car backfire and relive combat experiences. Or you may see a report on the news about a sexual assault and feel overcome by memories of your own assault.
When to see seek help
If you have disturbing thoughts and feelings about a traumatic event for more than a month, if they’re severe, or if you feel you’re having trouble getting your life back under control, talk to your doctor or a mental health professional. Getting treatment as soon as possible can help prevent PTSD symptoms from getting worse.
After surviving a traumatic event, many people have PTSD-like symptoms at first, such as being unable to stop thinking about what’s happened. Fear, anxiety, anger, depression, guilt — all are common reactions to trauma. However, the majority of people exposed to trauma do not develop long-term post-traumatic stress disorder.
Getting timely help and support may prevent normal stress reactions from getting worse and developing into PTSD. This may mean turning to family and friends who will listen and offer comfort. It may mean seeking out a mental health professional for a brief course of therapy. Some people may also find it helpful to turn to their faith community.
Support from others also may help prevent you from turning to unhealthy coping methods, such as misuse of alcohol or drugs.
At Centacare South West NSW we have professional and qualified counsellors at our sites in Wagga Wagga, Griffith, Albury and Mulwala. They work with individuals, couples and families, and will provide a confidential and safe environment for those wishing to gain skills and knowledge that can assist in addressing a range of different issues.