Managing posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

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What is PTSD

PTSD is a psychological disorder people may develop after experiencing traumatic events. Veterans generally experience PTSD at higher rates than the general population. You may develop PTSD as a result of critical incidents experienced during your military service.

Following trauma, it’s normal to feel some distress or change to your usual range of emotions and reactions. Most people recover within a few weeks with support from family, friends, or through formal debriefing. If these feelings continue for over a month, it might mean you are experiencing posttraumatic stress disorder.

The main symptoms of PTSD are:

  • avoiding activities, places, people, thoughts or feelings associated with the traumatic event
  • having negative or unwanted thoughts or feelings that make you feel flat, numb, afraid or angry
  • feeling alert or wound-up, making it hard to sleep or concentrate
  • re-experiencing the traumatic event through unwanted recurring memories or vivid nightmares.
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DVA support for veterans

Our free mental health care for veterans means you do not have to pay for your mental health treatment. You do not need to prove that your ADF service caused these conditions. We cover these costs through our Non-Liability Health Care (NLHC).

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Getting treatment

The two best places to start are your GP and Open Arms.

Your GP will talk with you to gain an understanding of what you have been experiencing. They will help you decide what treatment is best for you. They can refer you to a mental health professional or a trauma recovery program. They can prescribe medications if needed.

You can also touch base with Open Arms. Their staff understand veteran and military culture. They provide a range of specialised services:

  • 24-hour free confidential, professional counselling
  • peer support
  • group treatment programs and workshops
  • suicide prevention and resilience training
  • crisis accommodation support

Visit the Open Arms website or call 1800 011 046.

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Support for families

If you're supporting a family member who's living with PTSD, you can get help for yourself through Open Arms.

They can provide free confidential counselling to help you understand and better support your veteran family member. They can also help you to look after your own mental health and wellbeing.

Visit the Open Arms website or call 1800 011 046.

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Information and resources

Recovery after trauma booklet

DVA-funded hospital trauma recovery programs

DVA panel of community-based drug & alcohol service providers

Find a psychologist

PTSD Coach Australia app

Phoenix Australia

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