Post-traumatic Stress Disorder

Post-traumatic Stress Disorder

We aim to help individuals, families and communities that have been impacted by trauma, adversity, and loss to re-establish a sense of safety and predictability in the world.

If you’ve gone through a traumatic experience, you may be struggling with upsetting emotions, frightening memories, or a sense of constant danger that you just can’t kick. Or you may feel numb, disconnected, and unable to trust other people.

When bad things happen, it can take a while to get over the pain and feel safe again. But treatment and support from family and friends can speed your recovery from emotional and psychological trauma. Whether the traumatic event happened years ago or yesterday, you can heal and move on.

Click here for information about children with symptoms of Post-traumatic Stress Disorder

What is emotional and psychological trauma?

Emotional and psychological trauma is the result of extraordinarily stressful events that shatter your sense of security, making you feel helpless and vulnerable in a dangerous world.

Traumatic experiences often involve a threat to life or safety, but any situation that leaves you feeling overwhelmed and alone can be traumatic, even if it doesn’t involve physical harm. It’s not the objective facts that determine whether an event is traumatic, but your subjective emotional experience of the event. The more frightened and helpless you feel, the more likely you are to be traumatised.

A stressful event is most likely to be traumatic if:

  • It happened unexpectedly.
  • You were unprepared for it.
  • You felt powerless to prevent it.
  • It happened repeatedly.
  • Someone was intentionally cruel.
  • It happened in childhood.
  • Emotional and psychological trauma can be caused by single-blow, one-time events, such as a horrible accident, a natural disaster, or a violent attack. Trauma can also stem from ongoing, relentless stress, such as living in a crime-ridden neighbourhood or struggling with cancer.

Commonly overlooked sources of emotional and psychological trauma

  • Falls or sports injuries
  • Surgery (especially in the first 3 years of life)
  • The sudden death of someone close
  • An auto accident
  • The breakup of a significant relationship
  • A humiliating or deeply disappointing experience
  • The discovery of a life-threatening illness or disabling condition
  • Risk factors that increase your vulnerability to trauma

Not all potentially traumatic events lead to lasting emotional and psychological damage. Some people rebound quickly from even the most tragic and shocking experiences. Others are devastated by experiences that, on the surface, appear to be less upsetting.

A number of risk factors make people susceptible to emotional and psychological trauma. People are more likely to be traumatised by a stressful experience if they’re already under a heavy stress load or have recently suffered a series of losses.

People are also more likely to be traumatised by a new situation if they’ve been traumatised before – especially if the earlier trauma occurred in childhood.

Persistent symptoms of trauma include:

  • Anxiety levels are raised – in situations where the person may feel at risk or in any situation that reminds them of the incident.
  • Intrusive thoughts and flashbacks
  • Panic attacks may occur.
  • Vulnerability levels raised – even in one’s home, as most people loose their trust and confidence in people
  • Suspicion increases – victims are suspicious of most people with whom they come in contact.
  • Sleep Disturbances – reminiscent nightmares are common
  • Concentration level drop – some victims are unable to work
  • Irritability – inconsequential incidents may take on huge proportions.
  • Isolation – victims may withdraw from social contact believing no one else understands their situation.
  • Physical symptoms – fatigue, headaches and/or GI disturbance
  • Low self esteem and Relationship problems
  • Depression

Who Can Benefit from treatment?

Anyone who has experienced trauma through life threatening situations or serious injury that lead to feelings of intense fear, helplessness or horror. They include

  • Physical or sexual assault
  • A motor vehicle accident
  • Work place harassment
  • An industrial accident
  • Bush fire or flood
  • War experiences

Why Treat PTSD?

  • 80% of people with PTSD have an additional diagnosis
  • 50% suffer from depression, 22% from Dysthymia,
  • 20-30% suffer from Anxiety such as Simple Phobia, Social Phobia or Agoraphobia
  • 50% of men and 28% of women meet the criteria for alcohol or substance abuse
  • One study showed that if chronic pain persisted 2 years after an accident, 100% of the victims also had symptoms of PTSD.
  • Associated with PSTD are high rates of somatic symptoms, impulsive behaviour and impaired relationships leading to high rates of separation and divorce.

Best Practice Treatment is Trauma Focused Therapy

The National Health and Medical Research Council treatment guidelines state that the recommended first line treatment is trauma-focused therapy. Clinical research shows a high level of effectiveness in the reduction of anxiety following this treatment.

Whilst debriefing – on-site counselling provided very soon after an incident, may not be beneficial, best practice guidelines state that early support and effective treatment in a secure situation is recommended.

Our psychologists all have clinical training and provide trauma focused therapies.

Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing

Katherine Hunt and Dr Nicole Rosotti are trained in Eye Movement Desensitization  EMDR is also best practice treatment.

We provide individual assessment and treatment programs suitable for those suffering from a wide range of related disorders including, depression, complicated grief, panic attack, driving phobia, Generalised Anxiety Disorder, motivational interviewing for substance abuse, family therapy and relationship counselling.

The Medicare rebate for clinical treatment and the private health cover extra rebate apply. The cost of treatment is covered for those with an accepted MVA or WorkCover claim. Enquiries are welcome.