Restore - Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
Restore… with professional support for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
After experiencing a traumatic incident, you may find that you do not “bounce back” as quickly as you would like, even when utilising coping strategies that have normally worked for you before. You may even find that your distress is growing, rather than reducing, over time. Similar to a physical injury, if natural healing is not effective, you should access specialist advice and treatment. Seeking professional support can be confusing and intimidating, but it is important to know that PTSD treatments are highly effective in alleviating distress and restoring well-being. Accessing professional support early on is also important in minimising the long-term effects of a psychological injury.
Psychological support is usually the first point of call in treating PTSD. Psychological treatments focus on 1) confronting the memories and reminders of the event(s) and 2) addressing any unhelpful thoughts and beliefs that have arisen because of the traumatic event(s). They can be one-on-one or group-based. Recommended psychological approaches for PTSD include trauma-focussed therapies such as prolonged exposure, cognitive processing therapy, and eye movement desensitisation and reprocessing (EMDR). You can access psychological support for PTSD through your GP, or through the Psychology Unit (08 6229 5615). You can also look up specialist psychologists in your area via https://www.psychology.org.au/Find-a-Psychologist.
As PTSD involves distinct biological changes to the brain, sometimes medication is prescribed, particularly if symptoms are so distressing that they are impacting in your ability to undertake psychological treatment and are causing you extreme distress. Often people will avoid medication, but instead self-medicate via alcohol or other harmful substances. These self-medication methods only make PTSD symptoms worse and can also create new problems such as addiction and increased conflict in relationships. Medications are usually prescribed by a GP, who may also refer you to a psychiatrist if they feel you need more specialist medication treatment. Psychologists are not authorised to prescribe medication, but they may refer you to your GP or psychiatrist if they believe medication may be a helpful adjunct to your treatment.