With the fires still raging across the country, there are bound to be some people dramatically affected. Chances are there are some people who have gone through enough trauma to develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). I realize there are other ways to develop PTSD but we may yet see more cases of the disorder due to the fires.

Most people will experience strong emotions, usually negative, following their ordeal. This can last anywhere between days, weeks, or even months after; however, they usually resolve themselves eventually. If the individual continues to feel distress, this may be a sign of PTSD or maybe something else.

PTSD sufferers tend to relive their trauma—this could be from memories, flashbacks, or nightmares accompanied by intense reactions, both physical and emotional. They will likely go out of their way to avoid triggers and reminders of the issue. Their emotional security usually falls; they have negative feelings or perhaps just become neutral to everything around them. Outwardly, though, the individual may appear like a bundle of nerves: irritable, easily startled, always anxious, etc. All of these normally have an impact on daily life, from work to personal relationships and can lead to other problems such as depression, anxiety, and substance abuse.

Often times, the most difficult step for someone with PTSD is admitting they need help. If you think you may be suffering from PTSD, here are a few signs you should seek professional help:

  • Still feel low/down after two weeks
  • Feeling very anxious or distressed
  • Reactions to the traumatic event interferes with daily life at home, work, and/or in relationships
  • Considering harming yourself or someone else

You may be in the early developmental stages of PTSD if you’re:

  • Constantly on edge or irritable
  • Finding it hard performing normal tasks
  • Unable to respond emotionally to others
  • Try to busy yourself to avoid problems or interacting with others
  • Using alcohol, drugs, or gambling to cope
  • Having severe sleeping problems

It’s important after traumatic events to decompress. It’s perfectly normal and healthy to let out emotions and frustrations after something traumatic. The sooner you get help, the lower your chances of developing PTSD, even if you don’t think you need it. Finding support in your family and friends may all you need; otherwise, you can seek professional help from your doctor, a mental health specialist, or a local community healther centre.

I understand that people may not be able to give anything material, but if you have friends and family affected by the bushfires going around, check up on them and make sure they’re okay.

Information: Better Health Victoria: https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/post-traumatic-stress-disorder-ptsd

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