Learn about the signs, symptoms and causes of PTSD.
Causes of PTSD
Post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a particular set of reactions that can develop in people who have been through a traumatic event which threatened their life or safety, or that of others around them.
This could be a car or other serious accident, physical or sexual assault, war or torture, or disasters such as bushfires or floods. As a result, the person experiences feelings of intense fear, helplessness or horror.
Signs and symptoms
People with PTSD often experience feelings of panic or extreme fear, similar to the fear they felt during the traumatic event.
If you are suffering from PTSD, you may experience four key difficulties:
Reliving the traumatic event
Unwanted and recurring memories, often in the form of vivid images and nightmares. There may be intense emotional or physical reactions, such as sweating, heart palpitations or panic when reminded of the event.
Being overly alert or wound up
Sleeping difficulties, irritability and lack of concentration, easily startled and constantly on the lookout for signs of danger.
Avoiding reminders of the event
Deliberately avoiding activities, places, people, thoughts or feelings associated with the event because they bring back painful memories.
Feeling emotionally numb
Loss of interest in day-to-day activities, feeling cut off and detached from friends and family, or feeling emotionally flat and numb.
It's not unusual for people with PTSD to experience other mental health problems at the same time. These may have developed directly in response to the traumatic event or have followed the PTSD. These additional problems, most commonly depression, anxiety and alcohol or drug use, are more likely to occur if PTSD has persisted for a long time.