When a person experiences a traumatic event that has threatened their life or safety, or the safety of those around them, they can be left with intense feelings or fear and helplessness. This can trigger responses such as avoidance, intrusive thoughts and high reactivity. This is called post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD.
A person may develop PTSD after a traumatic event such as a car crash, physical or sexual assault, war or torture, or natural disasters such as bushfires or floods.
Many people show symptoms of PTSD in the first few weeks after a traumatic event but recover on their own with the support of family and friends. Others may require treatment and support from health professionals.
Effective treatment for PTSD involves a mix of inpatient psychiatric care and outpatient psychological services.
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