What is PTSD?

PTSD stands for Post-traumatic stress disorder and is a form of anxiety, it is the second most common mental health issue in Australia.

People with PTSD have intense feelings of fear, panic, sadness, hopelessness or anger after experiencing a traumatic event. These feeling persist for more than 4 weeks after the trauma and significantly impact on a person’s life, work and relationships.

It is common for people with PTSD to experience other mental health problems such as depression. Some people may use alcohol or drugs as a way of coping.

What are the symptoms of PTSD?

Four main areas of difficulty are generally reported in people with PTSD

  • Re-living the traumatic event –  recurring memories, vivid images and nightmares. People may have emotional, or physical reactions to reliving the event such as sweating, heart palpitations or panic.
  • Being overly alert or wound up –  sleeping difficulties, irritability and lack of concentration. People may be easily startled and constantly on the lookout for danger.
  • Avoiding reminders of the event – The person deliberately avoids activities, places, people, thoughts or feelings associated with the event.
  • Feeling emotionally numb – The person loses interest in day-to-day activities, feels cut off and detached from friends and family, or feels emotionally flat and numb.

Who gets PTSD?

It is estimated that up to 800,000 Australians suffer from PTSD at any given time. Men, women, children and teenagers can be diagnosed with the condition. PTSD develops in around 25% of people who experience a traumatic event. Examples of trauma include a serious accident, physical or sexual assault, war, torture, or disasters like bushfires or floods. You may be at a higher risk of PTSD if you have a past history of trauma, previous mental health problems, ongoing stressful life events or a lack of support networks.

What help is available?

The good news is that help is available, you can get through this, you can feel better. It is important to seek help as soon as possible, early intervention for PTSD can stop it escalating. If you have experienced trauma and are having intense feelings of fear, panic, sadness, hopelessness or anger that have persisted for more than two weeks you should speak with your GP.

Your GP may develop a Mental Health Treatment Plan for you which usually involves psychological therapy. With help, you can learn to strategies to handle situations that previously would have triggered a flashback. For some people medication can also be helpful.

Research shows that exercise and nutrition have a significant role to play in the treatment of PTSD and depression. The White Cloud Foundation funds an exercise clinic in partnership with QUT to support those at risk of PTSD. The program is free to join and currently has places available Learn more here.


For immediate assistance call

Lifeline 13 11 14

Suicide Call Back Service  1300 659 467 

To talk with a mental health professional about PTSD (Monday to Friday 9 am – 5 pm) call 1800 18 7263


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