It is estimated that almost 1 in 10 Australians will experience symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder in their lifetime. But not everyone who goes through a traumatic experience will develop PTSD. Trauma experiences can be quite broad, ranging from one-off incidents such as a car accident, or trauma that is repeated over a long period of time, such as childhood sexual abuse. One of the key aspects is that the people's worldview, how we believe things operate in the world, is changed. After a traumatic incident, you may no longer view the world as safe. On this page, we discuss the typical symptoms of PTSD that is related to one-off traumas. For complex or repeated traumas, see our page on complex traumas, which discusses the impacts on relationships.
Symptoms of trauma may include:
Flashbacks of the traumatic event - it feels like you are back there, reliving the event.
Nightmares of the traumatic event
Withdrawing from seeing your friends
Feeling emotionally numb
These symptoms have been present for some time. It is important to note that in the immediate aftermath of a traumatic event, a person may experience these symptoms, but they then resolve them over time without intervention.
Why do we experience these symptoms after trauma?
Our brain is trying it's best to process the memories of the traumatic event in the best way it knows how. Unfortunately, our brains are not too sophisticated, so in order to process the memories, it wants to habituate us to the image so the memory can be filed away. The problem is, the image is often very distressing, so we try to our best to get the image out of our head, and this constant battle leads to ongoing flashbacks and nightmares. Because the memory has not been properly processed, it is easily triggered by events that are similar in nature to the trauma. For example, a person might feel highly anxious while stopped at a red light in their car because they were previously involved in a car accident while waiting at the traffic lights.
Our psychologists at Grove Psychology are highly experienced in helping people who have experienced trauma. They work with you to help you overcome your symptoms and re-engage in the activities that you enjoy.
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