Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a condition that can develop after experiencing or learning of a traumatic event, such as a car accident, assault, or responding to the scene of a crime or tragic incident. Immediately following traumatic events, it is normal to have a heightened stress reaction, which may include symptoms such as feeling on edge, difficulty sleeping, upsetting memories or flashbacks, feeling distant from others, and not quite feeling like yourself (i.e. feeling low, angry, irritable). In some cases, these reactions will resolve on their own within a few weeks or months. For others, however, these symptoms persist and begin to cause problems in regular daily activities, such as work, school, and relationships.
Anyone can develop PTSD after exposure to traumatic events. It is not a sign of weakness. There are several factors that can increase the chances of someone developing PTSD, and many of these factors are outside of a person’s control. Vulnerability factors may include previous traumatic experiences, age at the time of trauma, type of trauma, and direct or indirect exposure to traumatic events. Some people may experience symptoms immediately following the event that persist for weeks to months, while others may develop symptoms and difficulties later on, which is known as delayed onset.
There are several evidence-based treatments for PTSD.
The National Center for PTSD is a great resource that offers up-to-date information about PTSD, treatments, and tools for both people with PTSD as well as those who may be concerned about a friend or family member with PTSD.
The Canadian Mental Health Association
The Canada Suicide Prevention Service offers 24/7 telephone crisis services. Call 1-833-456-4566. You can also text for crisis support between 4:00pm and midnight by texting 45645.
First Responders who have been exposed to trauma are encouraged to visit First Responders First, in order to get tailored support around PTSD and how it uniquely affects first responders.
Although useful, these tools are not meant as a substitute for professional therapy.
PTSD Coach/PTSD Coach Online: This resource is available as both a smart phone app or desktop application. PTSD Coach is meant to teach you how to better manage symptoms of PTSD.
Mindfulness Coach: This resource helps you learn how to be present and ground yourself in the moment when feeling overwhelmed, which can help you better cope with upsetting memories, flashbacks, and feelings.
PTSD Family Coach: Provides support to family members of those affected by PTSD and helps you learn how to care for both yourself and your loved ones who may be struggling with challenging symptoms.
The LifeLine App: This is a suicide prevention and awareness app that offers users both tools they can use and access to in-the-moment support services to help get you through a crisis.