Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is an extreme form of anxiety following a traumatic event. Sufferers often develop PTSD after experiencing an event that caused them to feel extreme fear, shock or helplessness such as a car accident or wartime atrocity or after being repeatedly exposed to trauma such as childhood abuse or sexual violence.
PTSD can even develop after simply hearing details of such events on a regular basis, as can happen with emergency workers who are exposed to traumatic events every day. Many of us may experience a trauma at least once in our lives and spend a period of time finding ways to cope. But what defines PTSD is when these feelings of anxiety do not fade with time, but continue to be felt months or years after the event and may even get worse, often being triggered by something which reminds us of the event. Traumatic events that can induce PTSD include acts of war, terrorism, torture, assaults, car accidents, natural disasters, domestic violence, and sexual abuse. And those in the military, firefighters, police officers, paramedics, emergency workers and psychiatric professionals are particularly susceptible to this condition.
There is no one single reason why someone will develop PTSD after experiencing trauma and someone else will not. Genetic and environmental factors are both believed to play a part in a predisposition for developing PTSD. The extreme nature of the event or series of events can also be the instigator of development of either condition.
Someone who has previously experienced a traumatic event is thought to have a higher chance of developing PTSD, as is someone who has been exposed to trauma over a period of time (such as childhood abuse or living in a war zone).
Someone with a history of other types of mental illness is also believed to be more susceptible to PTSD, along with anyone experiencing ongoing stressful life events following a trauma without the benefit of any social supports.
Whether the traumatic event was intentional or not may also have a bearing, with someone experiencing a natural disaster thought less likely to develop PTSD than someone who has been sexually assaulted or suffers some other form of intentional physical violation.
Someone going through PTSD will normally exhibit the following complex PTSD symptoms:
Many of these reactions are an exaggerated version of the body’s natural ‘fight or flight’ responses to stress, so gaining a better understanding of the symptoms may help us to better understand the causes of PTSD.
There are various methods available for PTSD treatment in Australia, with several types of psychotherapy being the most effective forms of treatment. These include:
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