Trauma and PTSD

Trauma typically occurs in response to situations which are life threatening or pose a significant threat to an individual’s physical or psychological wellbeing. Your Psych Centre is here to help. Our Psychologists have training in trauma-focused psychological therapy and provide individualised therapy in a safe and supporting environment.

Trauma response triggers

Situations or events which may trigger a trauma response includes:

  • Natural disasters;
  • Serious motor vehicle accidents;
  • Significant workplace injury;
  • Acts of violence such as a physical assault or robbery;
  • Interpersonal violence such as rape or child abuse;
  • Ongoing stressful events such as living in a crime-ridden neighborhood or battling a life-threatening illness.

Physical and emotional reactions to events such as these is a normal part of coping. After the threat has subsided, some individuals will have symptoms for a few days to weeks.  Whilst others may have symptoms which are more severe and longer lasting.  Severe and ongoing symptoms may indicate the presence of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

Symptoms of PTSD
  • Ongoing intrusive thoughts and memories about the traumatic event which cannot be controlled;
  • Flashbacks where the individual feels or acts as if the traumatic event(s) were recurring;
  • Recurrent nightmares where the content is related to the traumatic event(s);
  • Significant psychological and physical distress if exposed to reminders or symbols of the traumatic event(s);
  • Avoidance of distressing memories, thoughts, or feelings about or closely associated with the traumatic event(s);
  • Avoidance of external reminders  that trigger distressing memories, thoughts, or feelings associated with the traumatic event(s);
  • Unrealistic thoughts about the cause or consequences of the traumatic event(s) which leads the individual to blame themselves or others;
  • Overly negative beliefs or expectations about self, others, or the world (e.g., “I am bad,” “No one can be trusted,” ‘The world is completely dangerous,”);
  • Persistent negative emotional state (e.g., fear, horror, anger, guilt, or shame);
  • Significantly less interest or participation in important activities;
  • Feelings of detachment from others;
  • Unable to experience positive emotions (e.g., happiness, satisfaction, or loving feelings);
  • Problems with concentration;
  • Irritable behavior and angry outbursts toward people or objects;
  • Hypervigilance and exaggerated startle response;
  • Sleep disturbance (e.g., difficulty falling or staying asleep or restless sleep).

In children older than 6 years, repetitive play may occur in which themes or aspects of the traumatic event(s) are expressed. In children, there may be frightening dreams without recognisable content.

Next Steps

Most people who experience a traumatic incident will not require treatment. However, if the above symptoms persist after one month, it is recommended you speak with a mental health professional – such as your GP – who can advise on treatment options.

 

Treatments include trauma-focused psychological interventions which focus on education, stress management techniques, and helping the person to confront feared situations and distressing memories.

Book an appointment

Contact us at Your Psych Centre via phone, email or drop in to our office to arrange to meet with one of our trained psychologists for a confidential discussion.

 

No referral is needed to make an appointment. However, you can arrange for an appointment with your GP to discuss your mental health and the support which is available. If you are eligible for a Mental Health Care Plan, your GP can provide this to you to bring along to your session which will allow you to access a rebate through Medicare.