#PTSDAwarenessDay – Don’t suffer in silence
The 27 June each year marks PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) Awareness Day, a day that highlights a condition that so many people across the globe suffer from in silence. Like many health conditions, PTSD can be an incredibly debilitating condition that many people don’t get treatment for. Reasons for this are often that they don’t recognise their symptoms as PTSD, they don’t know treatment/ help is available, or because of the stigma associated with mental health difficulties.
Beyond Blue suggests that 57–75% of Australians will experience a potentially traumatic event at some point in their lives, it is so important to educate yourself and others about what PTSD is and help break down the stigma.
What is PTSD?
Beyond Blue identifies PTSD as a mental health condition that develops in some people who’ve been exposed to a distressing, shocking or traumatic event such as sexual or physical assault, an accident, natural disaster, war, or sudden death of a loved one.
Who suffers from PTSD?
While statistics surrounding the prevalence of trauma and PTSD in Australia is constrained, the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare’s 2007 National Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing, acknowledged that around 12% of Australians experience PTSD in their lifetime. While data is limited, AIHW suggests that exposure to trauma is more prevalent in specific groups within society. This includes but is not limited to, those who experience homelessness, refugees, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, individuals and families who have experienced domestic violence as well as the LGBTQI+ community. Those are the most notable groups to be affected, however, there are also those within certain occupations such as emergency service workers, special forces personal and veterans who are at a higher risk of suffering from PTSD. Mates4Mates estimates that PTSD affects over 8% of Australian Defence Force members alone.
What are the impacts of PTSD?
The effects of PTSD have a devastating impact on the lives of those experiencing the condition, as well as those around them. The psychological impacts can be deep and complex, with Heffernan et al (2015) showing a high correlation between PTSD among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians in custody and co-existing mental health disorders such as anxiety (31.2%), Depression (32.8%), substance use (75.4%) and suicidal ideation (50.1%).
What are the symptoms of PTSD?
Symptoms generally begin early, within 3 months of the triggering event taking place. It some cases, however, symptoms can present years after the event has occurred. Sadly, according to Phoenix Australia, only half of those experiencing symptoms seek support. They identifies common symptoms to include
- Re-living the traumatic event
- Avoiding places, people or activities that may remind you of the event
- Having negative and benumbed thoughts and feelings
- Feelings of irritation and agitation
How can I support someone suffering from PTSD?
OpenArms recognises that in supporting a loved one or yourself in seeking services, the best place to start is by having a conversation with your (or their) GP. Fortunately, PTSD is a treatable condition with several effective interventions available including Psychiatric medication, psychological intervention, such as Cognitive Behaviour Therapy, and Psychotherapy treatments such as Eye movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR).
As an illness that can be so widespread, with any one of us being affected at any given time, we all need to keep an eye out for the signs and know how to act. Those who experience PTSD don’t have to live with the pain and suffering that comes with it, and no one has to be alone.
Find out more, or access relevant services here:
BeyondBlue: 1300 224 636
Lifeline: 13 11 14
MensLine Australia: 1300 789 978