Engaging men in health

March 2009


Post-traumatic stress disorder

Best practice GP guidelines

Volume 38, No.3, March 2009 Pages 106-111

David Forbes

Bronwyn Wolfgang

John Cooper

Mark Creamer

David Barton


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.

Download the PDF for the full article.

Correspondence afp@racgp.org.au

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