GPs have an important role in recognising traumatic stress symptoms and aiding natural recovery in patients who have experienced a traumatic event. GPs are also ideally placed to identify patients with severe or persistent symptoms and to guide them to appropriate treatment for acute stress disorder or post-traumatic stress disorder.
Exposure to traumatic events (in which someone experiences or observes a severe threat to life or limb, or learns that this occurred to someone close to them) is the norm, with 75% of Australians exposed to at least one such event during their lifetime.1 GPs are well placed to assist patients in the aftermath of traumatic events (either single events or those that are more pro- longed, such as domestic violence) and to recognise and help manage traumatic stress reactions. Recognition of potential traumatic stress reactions in primary care may be especially important, as individuals may seek medical care after trauma but not necessarily assistance for mental health.2,3
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