Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
PTSD is a combination of social and psychological reactions that can develop in people who have experienced or witnessed an event or events that threatens their life and or safety, or that of others around them.
This can be a motor vehicle or other serious accident, physical or sexual assault, war-related events or torture, or natural disasters such as floods or bushfires .
Treatments are available for PTSD such as psychotherapists or humanistic counselling.
The symptoms of PTSD include:
Flashbacks, intense memories and nightmares that are so vivid, it feels like the trauma is happening all over again
Sleep problems, such as insomnia
Withdrawal from people and situations
Loss of interest in life
Increased anxiety and watchfulness
Being easily frightened or startled
Feelings of helplessness or hopelessness
Aggression and anger
Severe depression, or deadening of emotions
Loss of full range of emotions
Problems with concentration
Problems with learning new skills
Feeling like they have no future
Problems with close relationships
Loss of appetite
Unexplained skin rashes, headaches, stomach upsets and other complaints that don't seem to have a physical cause
Thoughts of suicide.
Symptoms in children
The symptoms of torture and trauma in a child depend on the child's age, development and their experience. Generally, a child who has experienced torture or trauma may show symptoms including:
Having the same nightmare over and over
Confusing reality with fantasy
Inability to trust others, including their parents
Feeling afraid of things, people or situations that don't present any threat
Agitated, anxious behaviour
Problems at school, including antisocial behaviour
Stuttering and speech problems (a child who can't yet talk may show their stress in drawings or play).
Some survivors of torture and trauma live with their memories for years, or even for the rest of their lives.
They remember the event in daydreams and nightmares, while certain things (such as objects, situations or people) remind them so much of their trauma, they experience strong physical and emotional reactions of stress, terror, grief and despair.
Without treatment, survivors of torture and trauma can have ongoing problems including:
Inability to trust others
Inability to form close relationships
Problems with school or work
Anxiety disorders, such as phobias or panic attacks
Problems with alcohol or drug abuse.