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Psychologist helps pick up the pieces from PTSD

This Mental Health Week a psychologist from the Buderim Private Hospital is educating the community on how to pick up the pieces from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and reclaim their lives. 

Berquin Human, Senior Psychologist and program lead for the hospital’s Trauma Recovery Program for PTSD, said he was proud to feature in the most recent Care to Share video which explains the symptoms of PTSD and the treatments available.

Wallis Westbrook, General Manager of the Buderim Private Hospital, said the hospital’s Cooinda Mental Health Service is one of only a small number of organisations nation-wide that the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA) has contracted to deliver a trauma recovery program for our armed services veterans.

“We understand there are around 13,000 veterans living right here on the Sunshine Coast and a significant number of these people are struggling with post-traumatic stress, anxiety, depression and addiction, many without much help,” Mr Westbrook said.

“Sadly, more veterans are dying each year by suicide than in combat situations and this Mental Health Week we are hoping to raise awareness of PTSD and encourage people to reach out for help and support,” he said.

In the video, Mr Human explains that PTSD is a mental health problem that develops after a person has experienced a traumatic event such as combat, a bushfire, road traffic accident or sexual assault.

“There are four main symptom groups of PTSD. The main symptom is reliving the trauma in the form of recurrent and disturbing nightmares and flashbacks where they feel they are re-experiencing the event all over again. Understandably, this is very distressing for people,” Mr Human said.

“Many people also battle with hyper-arousal which results in people feeling on edge, tense and more irritable than usual, and also prone to anger outbursts which are usually out of character,” he said.

“Another symptom is avoidance. People go out of their way to avoid reminders of the traumatic event including the people, places and things that remind them of the trauma. They may also avoid internal reminders, physical sensations or memoires of the event and this prevents the processing of the traumatic memory which keeps people stuck with the condition.”

“The last symptom is negative beliefs or emotions because after a traumatic event there is a significant shift in the way people think about themselves and also in the way they think about other people, for example they may have difficulty trusting people. They also tend to have quite pessimistic views of the future.”

“Most people avoid talking about PTSD to their GP or other mental health professional, and I would like to encourage them to take that leap because effective treatments are available which could have a profoundly positive impact on their life.”

“Treatment for PTSD usually includes a combination of psychological therapy and medication. Following treatment the majority of people are able to reclaim their lives and have experienced significant improvements in overcoming their symptoms and are better able to function in the important parts of their life, including at home, work and socially.”

The hospital’s Cooinda Mental Health Service launched the Trauma Recovery Program in February 2016 and is the only centre to provide this type of program north of Brisbane and south of Townsville. More information about the program, including how to access the program is available by visiting