Acute Stress Disorder (ASD) and Posttraumatic Stress Disorders (PTSD)

ASD and PTSD are disorders characterised by symptoms that include distressing re-experiencing and active avoidance of traumatic memories, emotional numbing and hyperarousal. Most people recover after a traumatic event without serious problems. Some develop more severe and persistent symptoms like PTSD. Those who develop chronic PTSD (i.e., lasting longer than three months) are unlikely to improve without effective treatment.
Around 15–25% of people who experience a potentially traumatic event (PTE) may develop PTSD, making it one of the most common anxiety disorders.
Therapy Trauma-focussed psychological therapy is the most effective treatment for people who develop ASD and PTSD. This includes addressing the traumatic memory and the use of in vivo exposure. Trauma-focussed therapy is embedded in a treatment plan that includes stabilisation, psycho-education, symptom management and attention to key relationships and roles. First line treatment should be trauma-focussed therapy (trauma-focussed cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) or eye movement desensitisation and reprocessing (EMDR) in addition to in vivo exposure).


While we all feel sad, moody or low from time to time, some people experience these feelings intensely, for long periods of time (weeks, months or even years) and sometimes without any apparent reason. Depression is more than just a low mood – it’s a serious illness that has an impact on both physical and mental health.

Depression affects how people feel about themselves. They may lose interest in work, hobbies and doing things they normally enjoy. They may lack energy, have difficulty sleeping or sleep more than usual. Some people feel irritable and some find it hard to concentrate. Depression makes life more difficult to manage from day to day.

Depressive Disorders

A depressive disorder is not a passing blue mood but rather persistent feelings of sadness and worthlessness and a lack of desire to engage in formerly pleasurable activities. A complex mind/body illness, depression can be treated with therapy and/or medication.


Anxiety is more than just feeling stressed or worried. While stress and anxious feelings are a common response to a situation where a person feels under pressure, it usually passes once the stressful situation has passed, or ‘stressor’ is removed.

Anxiety is when these anxious feelings don’t subside. Anxiety is when they are ongoing and exist without any particular reason or cause. It’s a serious condition that makes it hard for a person to cope with daily life. We all feel anxious from time to time, but for a person experiencing anxiety, these feelings cannot be easily controlled.

The symptoms of anxiety can often develop gradually over time. Given that we all experience some anxiety, it can be hard to know how much is too much. In order to be diagnosed with anxiety, the condition must have a disabling impact on the person’s life. There are many types of anxiety, and there is a range of symptoms for each.

Anxiety Disorders

An anxiety disorder is a medical condition characterised by persistent, excessive worry. Anxiety disorders can take a number of forms. Common to all of these is an anxiety so distressing, it can interfere with a person’s ability to carry out or take pleasure in day-to-day life.

A person may experience more than one anxiety disorder. Some people may also experience depression with the anxiety, or have problems with alcohol or drug abuse.

Intimate Relationship Problems

There are times in all relationships when things don’t run smoothly. Often, this is because people have conflicting expectations, are distracted with other issues, or have difficulty expressing what is on their minds in ways that other people can really hear and understand. Sometimes they just don’t know what to do to make a good relationship. Here is the list of the most common intimate relationship problems:

  1. Affairs/infidelity/cheating, including emotional infidelity, one-night stands, internet relationships (including ‘sexting’), long- and short-term affairs, and financial infidelity
  2. Sexual problems, particularly loss of libido (male and female), questions around your gender or your partner’s gender (including bisexuality)
  3. Significant differences in core values and beliefs
  4. Life stages – you have ‘outgrown’ each other or have ‘changed’ significantly for whatever reason
  5. Traumatic and/or life-changing events
  6. Responses to prolonged periods of stress, such as work-related stress, long-term illness, mental health issues, financial problems, problems with the children, infertility, and many more
  7. Bored in or with your relationship
  1. Dealing with a jealous partner
  2. Having ‘blended’ family issues
  3. Domestic violence, which includes verbal as well as physical abuse: THE most serious relationship problem
  4. Knowing you should not have got married in the first place!
  5. Lack of responsibility regarding finances, children
  6. Unrealistic expectations- still thinking your partner/spouse is the princess/knight and not seeing the ‘real’ human being
  7. Addictions and/or substance abuse

Sleep and Circadian Rhythm Disorders

Sleep and Circadian Rhythm Disorders are characterised by abnormalities in length, timing, and/or rigidity of the sleep-wake cycle relative to the day-night cycle. Five types of common disorders are defined below. The first four are chronic, with neurological causes. The last is temporary, with social and environmental causes.

  1. Delayed Sleep Phase Syndrome (DSPS)
    A condition characterized by an inability to fall asleep until very late at night, with the resulting need to sleep late in the morning or into the afternoon; but an ability to sleep reasonably well if sleep and wake times are much later than normal.
  2. Non-24-Hour Sleep-Wake Disorder (Non-24)
    A condition in which a person’s day length is longer than 24 hours. Sleep times get progressively later and later, so the person is eventually sleeping during the day until they cycle back to a night-time bedtime.
  3. Advanced Sleep Phase Syndrome (or Disorder) (ASPS or ASPD)
    A condition characterized by a need to sleep and wake up much earlier than normal.
  4. Irregular Sleep-Wake Disorder (ISWD)
    A condition characterized by irregular sleep and wake periods, at least three sleep periods per day.
  5. Shift Work Disorder
    A condition in which circadian rhythms are disturbed due to working during the body’s natural sleep time, and the person has serious difficulty in adjusting to the required schedule.

Eating Disorders

Eating disorders are serious mental illnesses; they are not a lifestyle choice or a diet gone ‘too far.’ Eating disorders are associated with significant physical complications and increased mortality. The mortality rate for people with eating disorders is the highest of all psychiatric illnesses, and over 12 times higher than that for people without eating disorders.

Eating disorders occur in both men and women, young and old, rich and poor, and from all cultural backgrounds. About one in 20 Australians has an eating disorder and the rate in the Australian population is increasing.

There are four eating disorders that are recognised by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), which are Anorexia NervosaBulimia NervosaBinge Eating Disorder and Other Specified Feeding and Eating Disorders (OSFED).

Eating disorders defy classification solely as mental illnesses as they not only involve considerable psychological impairment and distress, but they are also associated with major wide-ranging and serious medical complications, which can affect every major organ in the body.

Approximately 15% of Australian women experience an eating disorder during their lifetime.

Many people who have eating disorders also present with depression, anxiety disorders, personality disorders or substance abuse problems.