Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
Specific symptoms usually present themselves shortly after exposure to the traumatic event and in most people, these symptoms spontaneously resolve with no lasting effects within a few days. In a minority of people however, the symptoms persist.
Repeatedly reliving the traumatic event in a number of ways, including intrusive unwanted memories or nightmares.
Symptoms of hypervigilance and anxiety, or a tendency to be irritable and angry at the slightest provocation.
The individual will avoid thoughts and feelings related to the traumatic experience or reminders of it – effectively acting as a coping mechanism. Symptoms include avoidance of activities, places or people which remind them of their trauma, resulting in a tendency to isolate themselves.
- Disrupted sleep patterns or nightmares
- Irritability, sometimes extending into heightened feelings of anger with tendencies to become verbally or physically aggressive
- High levels of anxiety
- Avoidance of activities, places or people, which remind them of the trauma
- Loss of interest in hobbies and activities
- Feelings of being detached from daily life
- Feelings of guilt
- Difficulty relating to authority figures.
Potential impact on daily life and employment
Isolation from friends and family
- Often a sense of shame or stigma will prevent the individual from accessing help or support, exacerbating the sense of isolation
- Can often lead to the onset of other issues, such as depression, or drug or alcohol dependency
- Onset of phobias can lead to irrational or unpredictable behaviour, resulting in chaotic or disorganised lifestyle
- Aggressive behaviours can result in confrontation or refusal of access to services.
Support in the workplace
- Additional support may be required in the first few weeks as the individual familiarises themselves with the environment and their colleagues
- Appointment of a workplace buddy or mentor to provide personal support
- Identify any potential workplace activities that may trigger particular levels of stress or anxiety
- Gain emergency contact details from the individual and understand when these should be used
- Ask the individual about medication they are taking and possible side effects that may have a workplace implication – it may be that the individual works flexible hours to avoid early mornings when fatigue is at its worst
- Look out for tell-tale signs of the individual becoming stressed, for example, agitation or fidgeting. Suggest they take a break and ask the individual if they are okay
- Be mindful that the individual may need to leave a situation suddenly - often it is best to be seated near an entrance or exit to reduce anxiety.
Source; Beyond Blue, 2015.