What is post-traumatic stress?

Post-traumatic stress is a group of symptoms or reactions which occur following a stressful and traumatic event. These reactions can take a number of different forms and may also vary in intensity. They include:

  • mentally re-experiencing the traumatic event.
  • avoidance of situations or thoughts which remind one of the traumatic event.
  • increased state of anxiety.
  • physical symptoms.
  • general lack of interest in daily activities.
  • change of behaviour.

Who is affected by post-traumatic stress?

An event which has seriously threatened a person's life or his/her family, close relatives or friends can have devastating effects on that person. These effects can change a person's behaviour as well as his/her psychological wellbeing. In the event that these changes persist and are damaging to a person's life, that person is said to be suffering from a post-traumatic stress reaction.

Although not exhaustive, the list below describes the type of situations which may possibly lead to post-traumatic stress reactions.

  • motor vehicle accident victims, even if not seriously injured.
  • work-related accidents.
  • armed holdups/shootings.
  • natural disasters eg. bushfires, floods.
  • sexual assault.
  • plane, train, bus or ship disasters.
  • serious threats or harm to one's life or that of family, close relations or friends eg. kidnapping, assault, torture or death.
  • grief and bereavement.
  • stress situations.