PTSD has become much more common in our society over the last 10, 20, 30 years. It’s probably always been there, but now that it’s been properly recognised as a psychiatric illness, more and more individuals who’ve been exposed to very severe, very acute stress, are recognised as developing PTSD or post-traumatic stress disorder.
PTSD has particular symptoms, it’s, in a sense, an anxiety disorder, but people have flashbacks, intrusive memories, often feel very startled unexpectedly. And, as a result, this sense of being on edge, being under threat, is there all the time. It permeates the existence. It’s a very unpleasant, very disruptive disorder.
Treatments are, of course, an important part of any psychiatric illness and PTSD has a number of successful treatment approaches.
The first focuses on psychological treatments and there are a myriad of approaches that have been adopted that help with the treatment of PTSD. It is beyond this brief response to this question to go through that in a lot of detail, but effectively in the right hands with a skilled psychologist, there are various measures that can be put in place to help with PTSD.
On the other side, there are medical treatments that can help with some of the symptoms such as nightmares, poor sleep, the overall high level of anxiety. PTSD can take some period of time to treat, but overall with the right treatment, one can get quite significant symptomatic relief.
Dr Matthew Cullen, Psychiatrist, St Vincent’s Hospital, Sydney