Australian Guidelines for the Treatment of Adults with ASD and PTSD

Traumatic events involve actual or threatened death or serious injury to self or others and evoke feelings of fear, helplessness or horror. Up to 65 per cent of Australians are likely to experience or witness an event which threatens their life or safety, or that of others. It could be a serious accident, physical or sexual assault, war, torture or a natural disaster.

Most people recover after a traumatic event without serious problems. Some develop more severe and persistent symptoms like Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Approximately a quarter of a million Australians experience PTSD in any one year, with up to 5 per cent of the population having PTSD at some point in their lives. Without effective treatment, PTSD can become a chronic and debilitating condition. It carries a higher suicide risk than any other anxiety disorder.

The Australian Centre for Posttraumatic Mental Health (ACPMH) has developed the Australian Guidelines for the Treatment of Adults with Acute Stress Disorder and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder. Addressing a mental health issue of national significance, the Guidelines were developed in collaboration with Australian experts in the field of posttraumatic mental health and peak professional bodies. They are approved by the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC). The Guidelines contain comprehensive but succinct recommendations. They are designed for a range of multidisciplinary practitioners providing treatment of adults.

The program aims to improve practitioner and community knowledge regarding best practice approaches to the management of mental health conditions following trauma. It demonstrates those approaches through three case studies relating to recent trauma, suspected or diagnosed PTSD and PTSD with comorbidity. The program covers issues such as psychological first aid, screening, trauma-focussed therapy, medication and other comorbid disorders following trauma.

Produced by the Rural Health Education Foundation

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