Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD is a particular set of stress reactions, which develop in people who have witnessed or experienced traumatic events at some point of time in their lives. These traumatic events may be like death, serious injury, car accidents, sexual or physical assault, military combat, torture or war, or disasters like floods or bushfires that have actually threatened their safety or life or of the people who have been around them.
PTSD can happen after a person has been through one traumatic event, or after repeated exposures to traumatic events. Sometimes, PTSD can develop after hearing details about multiple devastating and traumatic events. This is a common experience amongst emergency workers.
PTSD symptoms can be persistent and severe enough to significantly impair an individual’s daily life. PTSD often occurs in conjunction with other related mental disorders such as depression, substance abuse, and problems with memory and cognition.
It is therefore important to seek help to manage PTSD at its early stages.
The symptoms of PTSD are generally characterised into 3 categories:
As per Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders – 5th edition (DSM-V), PTSD symptoms are generally grouped in five clusters. One or more symptoms are needed from every cluster for the patient to get a full diagnosis done.
The clusters are:
According to DSM-V, all symptoms should have persisted for a minimum of one month and they should be causing functional impairment or distress of some type. These symptoms shouldn’t be related to substance use, medications or illness.
All of the above symptoms sap a person's energy. Aside from either witnessing or experiencing trauma, the person now has to deal with a host of unpleasant symptoms. These symptoms may bring about multiple mental health issues (such as depression, anxiety, insomnia etc.) which may be too overwhelming for the person. As a result, the person may feel that he / she is not able to cope with his / her day-to-day life and eventually, over time, become angry at him / herself and project this anger towards his / her loved ones.
Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (CPTSD) describes the more severe and long-term condition that can occur after prolonged and repeated trauma (PTSD), particularly in childhood.
Symptoms of CPTSD are similar to the symptoms of PTSD.
If left untreated, PTSD can develop into CPTSD and cause long-term problems with memory and disrupt the development of a person’s identity and their ability to control emotions and form meaningful relationships with others.
It is therefore important to seek help to manage PTSD at its early stages before it develops into CPTSD.
The symptoms of PTSD and CPTSD often overlap with one another and you may find that feeling depressed and anxious are also causing you to feel angry (and vice versa).
Anger is a very common emotion experienced by PTSD sufferers. Quite often, there is no simple solution, as such, because this anger often has multiple layers and causes.
For example, someone who has been in an automobile accident (in which they were not at fault) may experience intense anger towards the at-fault driver, especially if the person has sustained long-term injuries (and been through lengthy court proceedings) that have affected and negatively impact upon them for the rest of their lives. Over time, this anger then grows, festers and becomes directed internally at oneself and / or externalised and projected towards the affected person’s family members and loved ones.
Anger can manifest and be exhibited within the family or at the workplace. It is usually at this stage when the anger gets out of control that people begin to recognise that they need help managing their anger. Alternatively, concerned family members, friends or colleagues may also reach out to seek help for their loved one/s.
Often, people with PTSD will also be experiencing one or more other conditions at the same time. When planning your treatment, your health professional needs to consider any other mental health conditions you may be experiencing, like depression and anxiety. PTSD can occur with other problems like depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, anger and hostility, drug and alcohol abuse, work absence due to sickness etc.
Please ensure you inform your health professional of any other mental health conditions or medical problems (such as diabetes, obesity, heart problems, etc.) you are currently experiencing (or have experienced).
Please contact us to make an appointment for PTSD or trauma counselling in Melbourne.