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.© 2013 King

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
  • Nervousness
  • Being easily frightened or startled
  • Feelings of helplessness or hopelessness
  • Irritability
  • Aggression and anger
  • Severe depression, or deadening of emotions
  • Loss of full range of emotions
  • Problems with concentration
  • Problems with learning new skills
  • Memory problems
  • 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
  • Destroying toys
  • Repetitive play
  • 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).

Common complications

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
  • Severe depression
  • Problems with alcohol or drug abuse
© Brain Injury Centre 2015-2021  


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