Post- traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) has traditionally been associated with military combat. However, did you know that females are more likely than males to experience PTSD? It affects 1 in 12 women, compared to 1 in 22 men.
What is PTSD?
PTSD is a set of reactions to experiencing or witnessing a traumatic event that threatens your life or safety, or of others around you. It leads to feelings of intense fear, helplessness or horror. Events can include: physical or sexual assault, war, torture, car or other serious accident and natural disasters.
Divorce, retrenchment or expected death of a loved one, aren’t regarded as causes.
Men are more likely to be exposed to a traumatic event compared to women: 65% versus 50%. However the events women are more likely to be exposed to, are themselves more likely to cause PTSD.
These events are when deliberate harm has happened (rape and physical assault) or repeated trauma (childhood sexual abuse). In contrast, for example, witnessing someone being badly injured or killed is less likely to cause PTSD.
What to do
PTSD often causes feelings of panic or extreme fear, which may resemble sensations felt during the trauma. Other symptoms may include:
- Re-living the even such as nightmares
- Overly alert and wound up
- Avoiding reminders
- Emotionally numb, detached from family/friends
- Losing interest in day-to-day activities
If you know someone with PTSD you can help by listening and showing you care. Support can involve small things like sharing a cup of tea or simply giving space and time alone.
If you experience PTSD you can help yourself such as: keep your routine going (work or study); return to normal activities; do relaxing and enjoyable things, but avoid alcohol and drugs: and when ready, talk to others about your feelings or what happened.
For more help, speak to your GP, visit www.acpmh.unimelb.edu.au