Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

As nurses, midwives and nursing and midwifery students you may be familiar with assisting patients who have PTSD. Even though you understand it, it does not make you immune to being affected by PTSD. The types of stressful events you may encounter at work could put you at greater risk of experiencing PTSD yourself.

If you would like a hand dealing with PTSD, and would like to chat to someone you can call our confidential support line 24/7 on 1800 667 877.
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What is PTSD?

PTSD is a form of anxiety disorder that occurs when an individual goes through a traumatic event. It may be a response to an isolated traumatic event, or as a result of chronic exposure to traumatic events. The traumatic event threatens their life or safety, or that of others around them. Traumatic events may include a serious accident, physical assault, sexual assault, natural disasters (such as flood, bushfires), torture or being in a war zone.

When traumatic events occur, it is normal to respond with different reactions such as fear, horror, anger, sadness or a sense of helplessness. When these feelings are intensely distressing or continue for more than 4 weeks, it is important to seek support, as they may be symptoms of a more persistent condition such as PTSD.

For more information about PTSD visit Beyond Blue.

PTSD experiences

Intrusive recollections

This can include vivid flashbacks and nightmares that make you feel you are reliving the event, it can also cause panic attacks.


This may include disengaging from close relationships with friends and family, feeling ‘emotionally numb’, and a loss of interest in activities that you once enjoyed. Some people report a feeling of ‘disassociation’ - feeling like they are watching from a distance as their life unfolds.


This can include increased vigilance, always looking out for danger, being easily startled or frightened, or having feelings of anger and irritability. Sleeping difficulties and problems are common. Memory problems, and having trouble remaining focused and concentrating are also common.

What can I do next?

Why not read some of our other articles that relate to looking after your mental health:

Our service provides free and confidential support 24/7, to nurses, midwives and students Australia wide. If you would like to speak to someone call 1800 667 877, or you can request support via email.

If you would like to know a bit more about the service before getting in contact — take a look through accessing support.

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