Veteran, Defence & Emergency Services PTSD

A traumatic event is an experience that a person perceives to have threatened their life or safety, or of those around them. For Veteran, Defence and Emergency Service workers, a number of events have the potential to cause PTSD, including threat of death, serious injury, viewing or handling human remains, seeing someone badly injured or killed, interpersonal violence such as being mugged or sexually assaulted, being unable to respond to a threatening situation, and witnessing human suffering on a large scale.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) can develop as a result of a traumatic event(s). 

How common is it?

It is estimated that approximately 8.3% of ADF members will have experienced PTSD in the last 12 months, which is significantly higher than in the Australian community (5.2%). In particular, ADF males report a greater rate of PTSD compared with the general community (8.1% versus 4.6%). 11% of Australian emergency workers have PTSD. The physically demanding nature of work, witnessing death and trauma, the shift work and missing special events with loved ones all compound, unless managed. Alcohol, drugs and food become toxic coping tools to ‘switch off.’ 

You can read more PTSD in emergency workers here.

Are there different types of PTSD? 

A trauma response is the person’s reaction to an event where there is the exposure to an actual or perceived threat to life or safety, which has a significant impact on a person’s emotional state.

A type of trauma, termed complex trauma refers to exposure to multiple or repeated trauma events such as childhood abuse or neglect; war; civil unrest; cultural dislocation; or sexual exploitation. The impact of complex trauma is usually severe, persistent and cumulative, and can result in poor emotional and physical health, wellbeing, relationships, and daily functioning. Signs and symptoms of complex trauma vary but may include: feeling disconnected to the self, emotional dysregulation, mood changes, depression, anxiety, memory or cognitive problems, and derealisation.