When To Get Medical Advice
It’s normal to experience upsetting and confusing thoughts after a traumatic event, but most people improve naturally over a few weeks.
You should see a GP if you or your child are still having problems about 4 weeks after the traumatic experience, or if the symptoms are particularly troublesome.
If necessary, your GP can refer you to mental health specialists for further assessment and treatment.
What Can I Do If I Am Not Happy With My Treatment
If you are not happy with your treatment you can:
- talk to your doctor about your treatment options,
- ask for a second opinion,
- ask a relative, friend or advocate to help you speak your doctor,
- contact Patient Advice and Liaison Service , or
- make a complaint.
There is more information about these options below.
You should first speak to your doctor about your treatment. Explain why you are not happy with it. You could ask what other treatments you could try.
Tell your doctor if there is a type of treatment that you would like to try. Doctors should listen to your preference. If you are not given this treatment, ask your doctor to explain why it is not suitable for you.
A second opinion means that you would like a different doctor to give their opinion about what treatment you should have. You can also ask for a second opinion if you disagree with your diagnosis.
You dont have a legal right to a second opinion. But your doctor should listen to your reason for wanting a second opinion.
An advocate is independent from the mental health service. They are free to use. They can be useful if you find it difficult to get your views heard.
There are different types of advocates available. Community advocates can support you to get a health professional to listen to your concerns. And help you to get the treatment that you would like.
You can find out more about:
Where To Get Help
- Your doctor
- Mental health specialist, such as a psychiatrist, psychologist or social worker, with experience in treatment of PTSD
- Community health centre
- Phoenix Australia – Centre for Posttraumatic Mental Health Tel. 9035 5599
- Australian Guidelines for the Treatment of Acute Stress Disorder and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, 2013, Australian Centre for Posttraumatic Mental Health. More information here.
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Tips For Coping With Ptsd
When PTSD is controlling a persons life and they are unable to function healthily, the best step they can take is seeking professional help. A trained professional will help the person get the treatment they need to overcome the anxiety of their specific situation. Treatment for PTSD will typically involve therapy and, in some cases, medication to cope with anxiety.
In addition to getting professional treatment, there are several additional steps a person can take on their own to help cope with the symptoms of PTSD. Some tips for coping with PTSD include:
- Make time for self-care: Self-care can be eating healthy, getting enough sleep or making time to do activities that you enjoy.
- Practice mindfulness: Mindfulness is when a person focuses on the present, including how they are feeling, how they are breathing and what is in their surroundings. Yoga and meditation are good ways to practice mindfulness.
- Engage in physical activity: Physical activity can reduce the severity of symptoms associated with PTSD.
- Develop a support group: Having friends and family that are understanding of your disorder and will check on you, even when you are avoiding them, will help you through your recovery.
- Consider getting a therapy dog: Studies have shown that therapy dogs can help people with PTSD relax and reduce the stress and anxiety they feel about the traumatic event.
- Avoid drugs and alcohol: Drugs and alcohol can make the symptoms of PTSD worse.
You Can Not Fix The Situation
What post traumatic stress disorder does to your partner is completely beyond either of your control. No matter how strong the temptation to help him or her work through the problem, you cannot do this for them. It takes time and practice but you must learn to remove your own feelings from the situation, except to express positive and loving support for the person .
Do not appeal to their sense of reason, for this only makes them feel ashamed.
Do not expect a magical transformation in your partner. You may experience days, weeks, or even months when they have high energy and/or strong positive feelings. These experiences may be due to new experiences that do not remind your partner of his or her past. But the PTSD symptoms can erupt at any time for any reason. Almost anything can trigger a sudden change in the PTSD sufferers feelings.
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Friday 1 October 2021
Post-traumatic stress disorder is far more common than you might think, and its not only war veterans that can suffer from iteveryday people can get it too, from experiencing trauma, abuse, or accidents, witnessing these things, or interacting with someone who has experienced them.
Chris says she has lived with life-affecting symptoms nearly all her life, but she was only recently diagnosed with PTSD. Shes also had to overcome a fear of being stigmatisedpersonally and professionallyfor her mental health condition to talk about it publicly for the first time.
This is her story.
Chris is 50 and lives in Griffin, Queensland, with her rescue cats and guineapigs. She has two adult childrena 24-year-old son who is a chef, and a 23-year-old daughter who is studying archaeologyand she works in community health.
Despite being successful in her career and in raising her children, she has suffered almost all her life from low self-esteem, severe anxiety, vivid dreams and nightmares, and constant fight-or-flight responses to all kinds of situations, including seemingly ordinary ones, such as getting a coffee, a timer going off at the hairdressers, or someone dropping a weight in the gym.
I wasnt diagnosed until November last year , Chris said.
I just thought I had some kind of mental distress The symptoms were presenting themselves again and again, all throughout my life, all of my childhood, all of my adult life, and it was interfering with my life.
Who Suffers From Ptsd And Why
What exactly is PTSD? Its a psychiatric disorder that can manifest in people who have either:
- Experienced or witnessed a traumatic event such as a natural disaster, a serious accident, a terrorist act, combat, or rape
- Been threatened with sexual violence, serious injury, or death
The term is most well known regarding combat veterans, with the name evolving from shell shock during World War I and then combat fatigue after World War II. PTSD and veteran suicide prevention go hand in hand.
But PTSD cuts across ethnicity, nationality, culture, occupation, and age.
On the most basic level, if you have experienced a potential threat to your life, you could develop PTSD.
PTSD is a biological injury. Brain imaging, using MRI technology, can identify changes in neurochemical systems and specific brain regions, or circuits connecting them, involved in the stress response.
With PTSD, the sympathetic nervous system becomes overactive. This system is what helps us respond to a threat, elevating our heart rate and our breathing, creating the fight-or-flight response to better protect us from harm.
PTSD can put sufferers in that fight-or-flight response full time. This makes them feel constantly on guard and prone to exaggerated responses.
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Psychological: Ptsd Can Make You Feel Powerless & Scared
One of the main symptoms of PTSD is a re-experiencing of the traumatic event. This means that images and sensations from the event will come back to you, sometimes without any warning, and impact your life. This can take several forms, including:
- Recurring flashbacks in which you actually feel like the event is occurring once more
- Nightmares where the trauma is relived over again
- Repetitive images or other sensations from the event, including sounds, smells, or feelings.
How may re-experiencing symptoms affect your life? These intrusive thoughts and feelings can make you feel powerless, as each trigger can bring you back to a state where you feel the event is happening all over again.
Having A Sexual Relationship When You Have Ptsd
Ultimately for me the decision to try to sexually heal has been about so much more than having sex. Ashley Zaccaro
How I Learned to Have Sex After Losing My Virginity to Rape by Ashley Zaccaro Theres no doubt that PTSD can impact sex in a multitude of ways, especially if the traumatic incident involves sexual abuse or assault. Ashley Zaccaro offers hope for recovery, however, discussing how she made progress in being able to have a sexual relationship with a loving and supportive partner.
8 Ways to Cope If Sex Is Triggering Because of Past Trauma by Felix Kalvesmaki In this list, we asked our community for their tips for coping when sex is made triggering due to past trauma. Number six is especially important!
How PTSD Can Affect Sex by Max Harvey, Ph.D. In this list, Max Harvey describes the ways PTSD symptoms can be triggered by sex and, ultimately, the ways we can begin to heal those triggers.
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Treatment For Children And Teenagers With Ptsd
For children and teenagers who are struggling to recover after a traumatic event, the recommended treatment is trauma-focussed cognitive behavioural therapy . This treatment involves:
- learning about the type of traumatic event experienced and common reactions to trauma
- teaching how to relax and manage anxiety
- helping to create a coherent story of the traumatic event, and correct any unhelpful beliefs about the event such as self-blame
- gradual exposure to trauma-related objects or situations that are feared or avoided
- helping to get back into everyday activities.
Ways To Help A Loved One With Ptsd
While those around you may have the best intentions, these comments can be hurtful. Alison Chan
25 Helpful Things to Say to a Loved One With PTSD by Eating Recovery Center If you know someone who lives with PTSD, it can be hard to know what to say to help them. In this article via Eating Recovery Center, Jenni Schaefer shares the kinds of statements that can really help. Either share these with your well-meaning loved ones or use them with loved ones yourself.
by Alison Chan Like the above helpful comments, so too can we say extremely unhelpful comments that cause hurt rather than help loved ones. Its just as important to know what not to say to someone living with trauma. Some of these comments may come from a place of stigma and misconception, but some of the more well-meaning comments may surprise you.
The Dos and Donts of Loving Someone With PTSD by Alex Katwiga To cap it all off, check out this list of dos and donts of loving someone with PTSD, some of which are extremely subtle but impactful in helping the one you love feel safe and validated.
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How Long After Trauma Does Ptsd Start
The first symptoms can begin within weeks of a traumatic event and need to continue for up to three months or longer to be considered PTSD.
It is important after a traumatic event to get whatever help you need. This can be talking to friends and family or accessing information and resources and professional help that help you feel you can continue with your life, says Dr Kriegeskotten.
Ptsd Sufferers Carry A Lot Of Shame
“One of the biggest misconceptions is that you’re unstable, volatile and likely to react violently at any second,” says sci-fi author Devon C Ford. He suffers from PTSD after being attacked at an English Defence League protest, while working as a public order police officer. “I’m very used to mass disorder and thought I was bulletproof. Physically I’d been hurt way worse in the past, but this incident was different I just tucked up into a ball and literally waited to die – like I knew it was going to happen,” he explains.
“If I’d come back to work with my arm in a cast I’d have been a hero, but because I came back with a non-visible injury I was weak and to be avoided. That was basically the end of my career in the police,” he adds. “I’ve spent years getting over the shame of having mental health issues, and I’ve genuinely had someone usher their child away from me when I’ve mentioned it – as if I’d admitted to having just come off the register or something. It’s embarrassing. I just wish people would treat it as it is – it’s an injury, not a weakness or a madness.”
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What Risks Are Associated With Ptsd
Alcohol and drug use
You might use drugs or alcohol to help you to manage your symptoms.
Drugs or alcohol can make you more unwell and more likely to try and harm yourself or take your own life.
Mental health conditions
Symptoms of PTSD can be made worse by other disorders such as:
- substance abuse, and
- memory problems
Most people with PTSD will have at least 1 other mental health condition. The most common disorders are:
- depressive disorders,
- substance use disorders, and
- anxiety disorders.
Other mental health conditions have the some of the same symptoms as PTSD. This may be why PTSD is hard to diagnose.
Suicidal thoughts and behaviours
In severe cases PTSD can last long enough and have a large impact on day to day life. This can cause suicidal thoughts and behaviours.
Physical health issues
PTSD has been linked to physical symptoms such as dizziness, tinnitus and blurry vision.
It has also been linked to physical illnesses such as heart disease, high blood pressure and obesity.
You can find more information about:
How Ptsd Affects Everyday Life
A trademark symptom of PTSD is re-experiencing the traumatic event. Without warning, the individual may confront the emotions that they felt when the event took place, making them feel as though theyre facing it again. This may manifest as recurring flashbacks or nightmares. Certain smells, sounds or emotions may trigger flashbacks, or they may occur for no apparent reason. This is often frustrating for the individual and can make them feel powerless when unexpected triggers bring them back to a state where they feel an acute sense of danger.
PTSD can lead to physical effects that impact the individuals health and quality of life. For example, they may always be in a heightened state of alertness with a fight-or-flight response thats always ready to take over. Concentrating may be difficult, and they may have a hard time sleeping, either because they have difficulty quieting their minds or because they avoid sleep to prevent nightmares, leading to exhaustion.
Traumatic events can change the structure of the brain, increasing the amount of stress hormones produced. As a result, the individual may lose interest in activities that they once enjoyed and have negative thoughts about themselves or others. These changes can leave the individual feeling unable to shake sad or anxious moods or get enjoyment from previous hobbies.
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Medications To Help With Ptsd
Another PTSD treatment is psychopharmacology, in which patients are treated with medication alone or in conjunction with therapy.
According to the American Psychological Association , the medications for PTSD that are approved by the Food and Drug Administration are sertraline and paroxetine . But fluoxetine and venlafaxine are also used.
What Is Complex Ptsd
The effect of repeated/ongoing trauma changes the brain, and also changes the survivor at a core level. Lilly Hope Lucario
Whats the Difference Between PTSD and Complex-PTSD? by Juliette V. Have you heard of complex PTSD? This excellent article explains the important difference between PTSD and its lesser-known cousin C-PTSD, including symptoms and examples directly from Mighty Contributors.
11 Habits of People Living With Complex PTSD by Sheriden Garrett From distrusting others to dissociation, this list compiles answers directly from the Mighty community on the habits they have due to living with C-PTSD.
12 Life-Impacting Symptoms Complex PTSD Survivors Endure by Lilly Hope Lucario This excellent article explains the life-impacting symptoms of complex PTSD, including some that you may not realize are connected to PTSD. Number 12 is eye-opening.
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Tip : Deal With Volatility And Anger
PTSD can lead to difficulties managing emotions and impulses. In your loved one, this may manifest as extreme irritability, moodiness, or explosions of rage.
People suffering from PTSD live in a constant state of physical and emotional stress. Since they usually have trouble sleeping, it means theyre constantly exhausted, on edge, and physically strung outincreasing the likelihood that theyll overreact to day-to-day stressors.
For many people with PTSD, anger can also be a cover for other feelings such as grief, helplessness, or guilt. Anger makes them feel powerful, instead of weak and vulnerable. Others try to suppress their anger until it erupts when you least expect it.
Watch for signs that your loved one is angry, such as clenching jaw or fists, talking louder, or getting agitated. Take steps to defuse the situation as soon as you see the initial warning signs.
Try to remain calm. During an emotional outburst, try your best to stay calm. This will communicate to your loved one that you are safe, and prevent the situation from escalating.
Give the person space. Avoid crowding or grabbing the person. This can make a traumatized person feel threatened.
Ask how you can help. For example: What can I do to help you right now? You can also suggest a time out or change of scenery.