Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

Man looking out window, reflectiveWhat is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder?

Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a severe and reaction to a traumatic event.

What are traumatic events?

Traumatic events can involve the experience of a natural disaster, such as a bushfire, flood, earthquake or tsunami. They can also be caused by a person, such as a work place incident (e.g. hold-ups, machinery accident), physical, emotional or sexual assault, car crash, combat or torture.                                                                                            

Some traumatic events are more likely than others to result in physical and emotional symptoms; these types of events tend to be both severe and extreme and result in personal feelings of intense fear, helplessness or horror.

Responses to trauma

Experiencing or being witness to a traumatic event can result in significant emotional and physical distress.


While it is common to experience symptoms of stress following a traumatic event, these will usually disappear within days or weeks.


For a person with PTSD, the symptoms are more severe, last longer, sometimes for many years, and interfere with general functioning, including work, academic, relationships, health and quality of life

A diagnosis of PTSD can only be made when at least one month has passed since the trauma. If symptoms are significantly problematic within the first month, the diagnosis used is Acute Stress Disorder.

Last Updated : 13-Nov-2013