Promoting mental health, demystifying mental illness, countering stigma and discrimination

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

What is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder?

Commonly referred to as PTSD, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is a condition that some people develop after they experience a very traumatic, sometimes life-threatening, event. In some people PTSD develops immediately after they experience the unusually traumatic event, however, in others, signs of the disorder may not develop for several weeks, months or even years after the event.

What are the symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder?

PTSD develops when a person experiences or witnesses a traumatic event and later experiences some of the following for a prolonged period of time:

  • Relives the traumatic event by frequently thinking or dreaming about it
  • Is upset or distressed in other areas of his/her life e.g. in school, work or in relationships
  • Avoids any situation that may cause him/her to relive the trauma
  • Demonstrates a certain amount of generalised emotional numbness
  • Shows a heightened sense of being on guard


How common is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder?

It is thought that, in the United States, some 10% of the population will suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder at some point in their lives.

How is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder diagnosed?

Adults tend to need to discuss their symptoms with their GP when they start to adversely affect their daily living. Children may be diagnosed when their behaviour changes or there are unexplained physical problems.

How is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder treated?
Individual or group therapy in addition to prescribed medication/s may be used depending on the presenting symptoms. Therapy helps those with PTSD work through the traumatic event that caused the condition. Certain antidepressant medications and mild tranquilizers are sometimes prescribed to reduce the more painful symptoms of PTSD.
What happens to someone with PTSD?
The course of PTSD is quite variable. With adequate treatment, about one third of people with PTSD will recover in a few months. Many people take longer, sometimes a year or more. A few people continue to have mild to moderate symptoms for a more prolonged period of time.


The following websites provide information on Post Traumatic Stress Disorder:

A very useful NZ website with resource data on most mental illnesses including PTSD

An international website with data on most mental illnesses, including PTSD


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Taranaki Mental Health Sector