Trauma & mental health
Almost everyone who goes through a traumatic event will be emotionally affected in some way. For some the effects can be long lasting. If you are still experiencing problems two weeks after a traumatic event, it is worth talking to your GP or a mental health professional to assess how you are going and to see if treatment would be helpful.
If you need help please click here to find out about available services.
For immediate assistance call Lifeline on 13 11 14 for confidential 24 hour counselling and referrals
Treatment for PTSD
Effective treatments for PTSD are available, and include counselling, medication, or a combination of both. These treatments can work even if your traumatic experience was a long time ago.
CounsellingIt is generally best to start with counselling rather than use medication as the first and only solution to the problem. Recommended counselling approaches for PTSD include trauma-focussed cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and eye movement desensitisation and reprocessing (EMDR). Both these approaches will help you to:
- learn ways to confront and come to terms with painful memories, thoughts and images, so you don’t feel as distressed by them
- learn strategies to help you get back into activities or visit places that you have avoided since the trauma because they have been too distressing
- learn tools to help you relax when you start getting too anxious or wound up
- explore thoughts that may be making your memories of the event more painful.
MedicationThe medications usually used to treat PTSD are antidepressants. Even if you don’t have depression, antidepressants can help make feelings associated with trauma more manageable. There are different kinds of antidepressants, but research has shown that selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are more likely to help.
Treatment for children and adolescents with PTSDFor children and adolescents who are struggling to recover after a traumatic event, the recommended treatment is trauma-focussed cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). This treatment will be adjusted to suit the child’s developmental stage, and involves:
- learning about the type of traumatic event experienced (e.g., how common it is), and common reactions to trauma
- teaching children to relax and manage anxiety
- helping children to create a coherent story of the traumatic event, and to correct any unhelpful beliefs they may have about the event (e.g., self-blame)
- gradual exposure to trauma-related objects or situations that are feared or avoided
- helping children to get back into everyday activities
- supporting families.