Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome
Dents in the Soul —helping to cope with PTSD
Traumatic events such as those involving actual or
threatened death or serious injury, or witnessing
human deprivation (eg. regions ravaged by
famine or war), can have a strong impact on
your mental health and wellbeing. Post-Traumatic
Stress Disorder, or PTSD, is one of a range
of mental disorders that individuals can
experience after traumatic events. PTSD can be
distressing with negative consequences for your health
and wellbeing. It can affect anyone, but there is help
Army, in conjunction with Joint Health Command and
singer songwriter John Schumann, have produced a
30-minute documentary designed to address stigma, offer
support and raise awareness of the issues surrounding
PTSD for Army personnel and their families. Featuring
Army members who share their own experiences with PTSD,
the movie supports the important message of look after
yourself, your mates and your family.
This documentary aims to de-stigmatise PTSD and to show
that it can potentially happen to anyone who has been
exposed to a traumatic event. Developing symptoms of
post traumatic stress after exposure to trauma is not a
sign of weakness it is simply being human.
Recovery rates from PTSD are high but early diagnosis
and treatment are particularly important. Generally,
the longer the symptoms persist, and go untreated, the
longer the eventual recovery will take and the greater
the disruption to the person's work, family and
enjoyment of life.
Singer Songwriter John Schumann, who wrote I Was
Only 19, is the narrator of the documentary and
helps walk viewers through diagnosis, treatment and
effects of PTSD on individuals and their families. John
Schumann also shares his personal experience with PTSD
in the film.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
- What is a traumatic event?
What is traumatic for one person may not be so
for another. However, it is generally accepted
that certain events, like threat of death, serious
injury, seeing dead bodies, death or serious injury of
a close friend/colleague/family member or witnessing
wide spread human degradation, have the potential to
cause significant distress.
- What are the main symptoms of traumatic
Most people will normally experience strong
reactions after traumatic events. Commonly, these
include re-living the event, having intrusive thoughts
about the event, avoiding anything that reminds them of
the event, feeling sad and tearful, feeling highly
anxious or panicky, sleep disturbances, being easily
startled, extreme irritability, difficulties
concentrating or remembering, excessive use of alcohol
or drugs, and relationship problems.
- If I am experiencing symptoms of traumatic stress,
when should I seek help?
The initial symptoms of traumatic stress would be
expected to subside after 2 to 4 weeks since the
traumatic event. If the symptoms persist longer
than this, you should seek professional help to manage
the symptoms and to reduce their impact upon your
ability to function.
- If I have symptoms of traumatic stress, will I
automatically get PTSD?
There is a continuum of how
people react to PTEs or CIs, from mild disturbance to
quite severe impact. Generally, the more severe
the reaction, the more likely a person is to develop
PTSD - however, if the symptoms diminish within a few
weeks, it is less likely that the person will go on to
- What is PTSD?
PTSD or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is a serious
mental illness that can occur after exposure to a
traumatic event. It is characterised by repeated
and disturbing images or memories of the event,
avoiding places or situations that remind people of the
event and significant hyper-arousal including
exaggerated startle responses and sleep problems.
- If I have PTSD, does this mean I'm going
PTSD is a serious mental illness that will
significantly impact upon a person's quality of life.
It does not mean you are going to change to an entirely
different person, or not be able to lead a quality
- I have watched the DVD, now what?
The booklet and website accompanying
the PTSD DVD includes guidelines for accessing support
for issues or questions raised by viewing the DVD. The
booklet suggests that questions are
written down and then discussed with local mental
health professionals or providers. These are described
in the booklet as Nurses, Chaplains,
Psychologists, Social Workers, Psychiatrists or Medical
Officers. The possibility of discussing the DVD and
questions that arise with mates or the Chain of Command
is also suggested.
The booklet and website includes
contact details for additional resources including the
Army Wounded Digger website, DCO, Open Arms – Veterans & Families Counselling, DVA, Defence
Families Australia, Mental Health, JHC, the Australian
Centre for Posttraumatic Mental Health and the All
Hours Support Line.
Additional Resources and Contacts
All Hours Support Line (ASL)
- 1800 628 036
Defence Family Helpline (Defence Community Organisation)
- 1800 624 608
Open Arms – Veterans & Families Counselling
- 1800 011 046
Joint Health Command
Defence Families of Australia
Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA)
- 13 32 54
Australian Centre for Post Traumatic Mental Health (ACPMH)