Do You Suffer From Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder?

If you’ve been impacted by something stressful and disturbing in your life and experience intense, disruptive thoughts and feelings, relating to this life experience, after the traumatic event occurred, you likely have what is called post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Unfortunately stressful life situations, such as experiencing or witnessing a traumatic event, are a part of life; so too is experiencing this as emotionally or physically harmful or life-threatening.  This may affect a person’s mental, physical, social and spiritual well-being and can occur in all people, of any ethnicity, nationality or culture, and at any time during a person’s life.  

It is important to remember that PTSD affects everyone differently.  Whilst PTSD affects around 3 million Australians at some time in their lives, thankfully PTSD is a treatable anxiety disorder.  Symptoms of PTSD can range from very subtle changes in a person’s day-to-day life; feeling numb to yourself and the world and a feeling to withdraw, to encountering flash-back memories, dreams and physical anxiety or ‘anxiety attacks’. 

Although life events such as a relationship breakdown or being fired from a job can feel absolutely devastating, these are not the kinds of events that usually cause PTSD.  There is often a mixture of reasons to explain why some people develop PTSD and others do not, however anybody can develop PTSD and some people are believed to be at greater risk.  If someone has experienced repeated trauma over a long period of time, and/or they have had a mental illness in the past, or even have a history of childhood abuse (for example); these are considered risk factors for developing PTSD. 

If you believe you are experiencing PTSD, a doctor is able to diagnose you. A mental health assessment will be provided, where you will be asked about your current symptoms, past history and family history.  A physical examination may be required too, to check that there are no (other) reasons for the present symptoms.  You will be asked about how long, how often and how intense your symptoms are, and what happened to you when you experienced the triggering event/s. 

If you can’t perform properly at school or work, and feel isolated in your experience, it is important you reach out – early – for support.  It is important to know that reaching out for support after experiencing a traumatic event does assist in successful monitoring of and recovery from PTSD.  You are not alone.