Day puts fo­cus on post-trau­matic stress dis­or­der

Southern Gazette (South Perth) - - Near You -

MANY of us ex­pect to en­counter dif­fi­cult events or cir­cum­stances in our lives, but for some peo­ple those events can trig­ger a re­ac­tion that makes it dif­fi­cult to con­tinue their ev­ery­day life, job or re­la­tion­ship.

Clin­i­cal psy­chol­o­gists are re­port­ing an in­crease in post­trau­matic stress dis­or­der, or PTSD, par­tic­u­larly in cer­tain pro­fes­sions such as the mil­i­tary, po­lice, am­bu­lance, fire­fight­ers and pri­son of­fi­cers.

Dou­glas Brewer, psy­chol­o­gist clin­i­cal co-or­di­na­tor of trauma re­cov­ery pro­grams at Hol­ly­wood Clinic, reg­u­larly treats peo­ple in th­ese oc­cu­pa­tions. Mr Brewer said he was see­ing an in­crease in PTSD suf­fer­ers, par­tic­u­larly among peo­ple who have re­turned from ac­tive mil­i­tary ser­vice over­seas and in those who work in detention cen­tres.

“With the re­turn­ing of sol­diers in the Mid­dle East we have seen an in­crease in con­tem­po­rary vet­er­ans be­ing re­ferred with post­trau­matic stress dis­or­der,” Mr Brewer said.

“They are usu­ally re­ferred to us once they have left the mil­i­tary and are start­ing to re­alise that some­thing is wrong and they are not able to fix it.

“It of­ten shows up in terms of dif­fi­cul­ties in re­la­tion­ships, main­tain­ing em­ploy­ment and over-re­liance on al­co­hol and/or drugs to man­age their emo­tional dif­fi­cul­ties.”

Mr Brewer said he had pa­tients who had been strug­gling with their emo­tions for a long time, of­ten years.

“They are not sleep­ing, with­draw­ing from life, from friends, or just dis­ap­pear and end up in a doc­tor’s surgery,” he said.

“When their doc­tor finds out they had a front­line job deal­ing with of­ten hor­rific cir­cum­stances, such as re­turn­ing from war, the penny drops that they have PTSD.”

Mr Brewer said re­cov­er­ing from PTSD was as not easy as some peo­ple thought.

“What peo­ple are not fully aware of is there is a high in­ci­dent rate of fail­ure to re­cover from the kind of trauma ex­pe­ri­enced by po­lice, am­bu­lance, fire­fight­ers and I am see­ing an in­creas­ing num­ber of peo­ple work­ing who have worked as a pri­son of­fi­cer,” he said.

“The dif­fi­culty of work­ing in those en­vi­ron­ments is the de­mand of con­stantly hav­ing to deal with trau­matic events and the re­cov­ery rate is not good. When we used to treat Viet­nam vets we would talk about the treat­ment of symptoms, now we talk about look­ing for re­cov­ery and growth.

“It is not some­thing we should ac­cept as a life­long event as treat­ment is avail­able.”

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