What is a traumatic event?
A traumatic event is any event which is distressing or threatening, such as a serious accident, a physical assault, war, a natural disaster, sexual assault or abuse. In Australia, the most common traumatic events are having someone close die unexpectedly, seeing someone badly injured or killed, unexpectedly seeing a dead body, or being in a life-threatening car accident.
It is important to remember that everyone will respond uniquely to a traumatic event, and not everyone who experiences a traumatic event will develop PTSD.
What is PTSD?
Immediately after a traumatic event, it is very normal to experience a range of symptoms including strong emotions, difficulty concentrating or difficulty sleeping. However, if these symptoms seem to be persisting for longer than a month, it may be indicative of PTSD (or post-traumatic stress disorder).
We understand PTSD to be a set of reactions that occur after a traumatic event. Symptoms include:
- Re-living the traumatic event through unwanted memories, vivid nightmares, flashbacks, or intense reactions such as heart palpitations or panic when reminded of the event.
- Feeling wound up – having trouble sleeping or concentrating, feeling angry or irritable, taking risks, becoming easily startled, or constantly being on the look-out for danger.
- Avoiding reminders of the event – activities, places, people, thoughts or feelings that bring back memories of the trauma.
- Negative thoughts and feelings – feeling afraid, angry, guilty, flat, or numb a lot of the time, losing interest in day-to-day activities, feeling cut off from friends and family.
For more information, here are some helpful websites: