Approximately 50–65% of Australians are exposed to a traumatic
event during their lifetime. Approximately 250 000 Australians suffer
from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) at any given time, making
it one of the most common anxiety disorders. In May 2007, the
Australian guidelines for the treatment of adults with acute stress
disorder and posttraumatic stress disorder was published. In order
to facilitate translation of evidence regarding PTSD into busy clinical
practice, and particularly for general practitioners, a more succinct
version of the guidelines has been developed.
This article describes a brief algorithm based on the Australian
guidelines and outlines key recommendations.
General practitioners are often the first point of contact with the
health care system for someone who has experienced a traumatic
event. Patients experiencing trauma within the past 2 weeks require
psychological first aid, and monitoring and assessment for the
development of acute stress disorder and symptoms of PTSD. If the
patient wishes to talk about the event with you, support them in doing
so. However, it is important not to push those who prefer not to talk
about the event. Trauma focused psychological treatment is the first
line of treatment for PTSD, although antidepressant medication may
have an adjuvant role in some patients or in those with comorbidities.
In May 2007 the Australian Centre for Posttraumatic Mental Health (ACPMH), in collaboration with Australian trauma experts, published the Australian guidelines for the treatment of adults with acute stress disorder and posttraumatic stress disorder.1 The guidelines have been approved by the National Medical Health and Research Council and endorsed by the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists (RANZCP) and the Australian Psychological Society.
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