Unfortunately, some people will experience traumatic events during the course of their lives.
Very frightening, distressing or life threatening events may result in both physical and psychological injuries. Most people who experience a traumatic event will recover over time with the support of friends and families and will be able to go on to live a meaningful life with no long-term problems. However, some people will continue to experience ongoing distress as a result of the traumatic event. This is called post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Everyone’s reaction to traumatic events is unique.
The same event may cause some individuals little to no stress, while others will experience significant distress and ongoing difficulties. Some individuals can also experience distress immediately following a traumatic event, or problems may develop much later.
Traumatic events are experiences which pose a significant threat to an individual’s life, physical or psychological wellbeing. Examples of traumatic events include natural disasters, acts of violence, interpersonal violence and serious motor vehicle accidents. Traumatic events can either directly involve an individual, or the individual may witness the event. Depending on an individual’s personal experiences, events which appear to be less severe can sometimes trigger a trauma response.
Symptoms of trauma can be categorised into the broader categories of physical, cognitive (thinking/thoughts), behavioural and emotional symptoms. Every person will react differently to experiences of trauma.
People experience a range of symptoms in response to trauma
Some reactions to traumatic events are natural and healthy ways of the healing process, adjusting to a powerful event and making sense out of what has happened. However if you find symptoms experienced as a result of a traumatic event are ongoing and causing stress, then psychological assistance can be helpful.
Trauma focussed psychological interventions focus on providing education, stress management techniques and helping an individual to cope with feared situations and distressing memories.
On some occasions, individuals suffering from a trauma response to a traumatic event will go on to develop more serious conditions such as anxiety disorders, drug and alcohol problems, depression or post-traumatic stress disorder.
Disrupted or disturbed sleep
Aches and pains
Excessive alertness to potential danger
Intrusive thoughts or memories of the traumatic event
Visual images of the events
Avoidance of places or activities that are reminders of the event
Loss of interest in activities normally found enjoyable
Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
PTSD is a clinical disorder that can develop in some people after a response to trauma.
PTSD involves three main groups of symptoms:
Re-experiencing the trauma – via intrusive memories, nightmares or flashbacks
Avoidance of reminders and numbing of emotional responsiveness
Hyperarousal – feeling jumpy or on edge
PTSD is very distressing for the individual experiencing it, it can lead to serious ongoing problems and difficulties functioning as part of a normal life. Individuals who suffer from PTSD can experience disruptions in work performance and attendance, social and family relationships, performing daily tasks and engaging in appropriate self-care activities. Psychological assistance may be necessary to assist a person in their recovery.
Match with a Psychologist
Start your journey with Strategic Psychology
If you have experienced a traumatic event and are having difficulties coping, or are experiencing any unhelpful or worrisome symptoms as a result, you can contact us at Strategic Psychology to arrange an appointment with one of our trained psychologists.
No referral is needed to make an appointment, however you can contact your GP to receive a referral under a Mental Health Treatment Plan (if eligible) to receive a rebate through Medicare.