Australian Resource Centre for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

Australian Resource Centre for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

What is PTSD

PTSD is the abbreviation for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. PTSD is a specific set of stress reactions that can develop in people who have experienced or witnessed traumatic events which threatened their life or safety, or that of others around them.

These traumatic events could be death, car (or other) accidents, serious injury, military combat, physical or sexual assault, war or torture, or disasters such as bushfires or floods. As a result, the person experiences feelings of intense fear, helplessness or horror.

PTSD can happen after a person has been through one traumatic event, or after repeated exposures to traumatic events. Sometimes, PTSD can develop after hearing details about multiple devastating and traumatic events. This is a common experience amongst emergency workers.

PTSD symptoms can be persistent and severe enough to significantly impair an individual’s daily life. PTSD often occurs in conjunction with other related mental disorders such as depression, substance abuse, and problems with memory and cognition.

It is therefore important to seek help to manage PTSD in its early stages.

What is Complex PTSD (CPTSD)?

Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (CPTSD) describes the more severe and long-term condition that can occur after prolonged and repeated trauma (PTSD), particularly in childhood.

If left untreated, PTSD can develop into CPTSD and cause long-term problems with memory and disrupt the development of a person’s identity and their ability to control emotions and form meaningful relationships with others.

It is therefore important to seek help to manage PTSD in its early stages before it develops into CPTSD.

PTSD evaluation

If you have experienced, or are currently experiencing, any (or a combination of) the PTSD Symptoms listed below, then please contact your G.P or a mental health professional as soon as possible. They will work with you to identify an appropriate treatment plan. Remember you are not alone and ARC4PTSD can help you find the nearest PTSD friendly service providers.

PTSD symptoms

Symptoms of CPTSD are similar to the symptoms of PTSD.
According to the DSM-V (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders – 5th edition), PTSD symptoms are grouped into 5 different clusters. One or more symptoms are required from each of these clusters in order for a patient to receive a full diagnosis.
Those clusters include:

Stressor – (one required) The person was exposed to injury or severe illness that was life-threatening, which includes actual or threatened injury or violence. This may include at least one of the following:
– Direct exposure to the trauma
– Witnessing a trauma
– Exposure to trauma by being a first responder, such as police, firefighter, medic, or crisis counselor
– Learning that someone close to you experienced the trauma

Intrusion Symptoms (one required) – The person who was exposed to a trauma then re-experiences the trauma in one or more ways, including:
– Flashbacks
– Nightmares
– Distressing and intense memories
– Distress or physical reactions after being exposed to reminders, known as “triggers”

Unpleasant Changes to Mood or Thoughts (two required) –
– Blaming self or others for the trauma
– Decreased interest in things that were once enjoyable
– Negative feelings about self and the world
– Inability to remember the trauma clearly
– Difficulty feeling positive
– Feelings of isolation
– Negative affect, and difficulty feeling positive

Avoidance (one required) – This occurs when a person tries to avoid all reminders of the trauma, including:
– Avoiding external reminders of what happened
– Avoiding trauma-related thoughts or emotions, sometimes through the use of drugs or alcohol

Changes in Reactivity (two required) – This occurs when a person becomes more easily startled and reacts to frightful experiences more fully, including symptoms of:
– Aggression or irritability
– Hypervigilance and hyper-awareness
– Difficulty concentrating
– Difficulty sleeping
– Heightened startle response
– Engaging in destructive or risky behavior
– Difficulty sleeping or staying asleep

*As per the DSM-V, all of these symptoms must have persisted at least one month, and they must be causing distress or functional impairment of some kind. These symptoms must not be related to any substance use, illness, or medications.

*Please note that these symptoms will NOT officially diagnose PTSD. They are meant to help guide you and determine the nature, extent and severity of your symptoms and whether you should consider seeking advice from your doctor or a mental health care professional.
If you are unsure or have any questions, please ring us to contact your nearest G.P or mental health professional.

Remember, you are not alone and help is out there! You just have to take the first step, reach out and ask for help. (02)9412-0000