PTSD Awareness Day 2022

Today is PTSD awareness day (June 27th ). A day to raise awareness about post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and the significant impact this can have on a person’s life and wellbeing. In Australia, 5-10% of individuals will experience PTSD at some point in their lives [1]

So, what is PTSD?

Trauma can affect different people in different ways. When experiencing or witnessing a traumatic event, it is common to feel a range of uncomfortable emotions and responses. It’s likely that a person may feel sad, fear, grief, shock, or guilt. These feelings are normal and will often pass with time and the support of others. However, for some people, working through these feeling and emotions can be hard and may have symptoms that last a lot longer.  

Post-traumatic stress disorder are the physical and psychological reactions that may occur in people who have experienced or witnessed a traumatic event. It may evolve from events such as natural disasters, sexual or physical assault or other serious accidents. It’s estimated that 2-20% of all people who have experienced a (or multiple) traumatic events, develop PTSD [2]. Without the adequate help and support in navigating the aftermath of a traumatic experience, it can put people at risk of developing other co-morbid mental health disorders such as anxiety and depression. 

Common signs and symptoms of PTSD

Whilst this is not the exhaustive or diagnostic list of symptoms of PTSD, individuals may experience the following: 

  • Re-living the traumatic event: This occurs when a person has vivid, sudden, or unwanted memories that relive the traumatic experience. This can include intense nightmares or flashbacks which can cause severe emotional distress and physical reactions. 
  • Feeling wound up: This occurs when a person is easily startled, tense, angry, or on-edge. This often plays out through difficulty sleeping or concentrating. 
  • Intense negative thoughts and feelings: This occurs when a person experiences intense and constant negative thoughts about themselves and others. They may feel hopeless about the future or feel emotionally numb. 

How do I manage PTSD?

If you think you are experiencing symptoms of PTSD following a traumatic event, it is important to reach out for professional support. A professional such as a psychologist, who specialises in PTSD and trauma will be able to assist with managing your symptoms and allow you to safely process the trauma. Some helpful personal strategies to manage the symptoms of PTSD include: 

  • Social connectedness: Connecting with friends, family and the community can help to build a support system where you can open up, be vulnerable, and feel less alone. Having someone you trust and can talk to can be helpful to work through these challenging times. Social connectedness has been proven to reduce symptoms and alleviate the challenges that individuals with PTSD experience by boosting wellbeing and building meaningful relationships. 
  • Journaling: Journaling can help people cope with PTSD symptoms through expressive writing. Expressing writing can help to let go of any unwanted thoughts and can communicate feelings with oneself. It can also counteract the effects of stress, build resilience, and overcome emotional upheaval. 
  • Relaxation techniques: Relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, yoga, and mindfulness can aid in releasing tension which in turn can calm the mind and body. By engaging in relaxation techniques, you can tune into your senses which can encourage you to become more self-aware. 

Seeking professional support for PTSD

If you are feeling distressed after a traumatic event or if you or someone you know are experiencing the signs and symptoms of PTSD, it’s important you reach out to a professional and know you are not alone. Reach out for support from your GP, psychologist or Employee Assistance Program.