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Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental health condition that is triggered by a terrifying event that you either experience yourself or witness. Symptoms may include flashbacks, nightmares, and severe anxiety, as well as uncontrollable thoughts about the event. Any event that overwhelms you with feelings of hopelessness and helplessness can trigger PTSD.

The sooner PTSD is treated, the easier it is to overcome. Remember, PTSD is not a sign of weakness, and the only way to overcome it is to confront what happened. Treatment typically includes psychotherapy with a mental health professional, family therapy, and medication.

 

What is normal?

After a traumatic experience, it’s normal to feel frightened, sad, or anxious. It’s also very common to have bad dreams, feel fearful, and find it difficult to stop thinking about what happened. For most people these symptoms last for several days or maybe weeks. But if the upset doesn’t fade, and you feel stuck with a constant sense of danger and painful memories, you may be suffering from PTSD. 

 

What are common signs and symptoms?

PTSD symptoms are generally grouped into four types. 

 

Intrusive memories:

  • Recurrent, unwanted distressing memories of the traumatic event
  • Reliving the traumatic event as if it were happening again (flashbacks)
  • Upsetting dreams or nightmares about the traumatic event
  • Severe emotional distress to something that reminds you of the traumatic event

 

Avoidance:

  • Trying to avoid thinking or talking about the traumatic event
  • Avoiding places, activities, or people that remind you of the traumatic event

 

Negative changes in thinking and mood:

  • Negative thoughts about yourself, other people, or the world
  • Hopelessness about the future
  • Memory problems
  • Feeling detached from family and friends
  • Difficulty experiencing positive emotions
  • Feeling emotionally numb

 

Changes in physical and emotional reactions:

  • Being easily startled or frightened
  • Always being on guard for danger
  • Self-destructive behaviour, such as drinking too much or driving too fast
  • Trouble sleeping or concentrating
  • Angry outbursts or aggressive behaviour
  • Overwhelming guilt or shame

 

Should I seek help?

If you have disturbing thoughts and feelings about a traumatic event for more than a month, if they're severe, or if you feel you're having trouble getting your life back under control, talk to your doctor or a mental health professional. The sooner PTSD is treated, the easier it is to overcome. 

If you think you may hurt yourself or attempt suicide, seek emergency treatment immediately—call 911 or the Nova Scotia Mental Health Crisis line at 1-888-429-8167.

 

Tools

PSPNET (Public Safety Personnel)

PSPNET
This tool is not administered by Nova Scotia Health Authority. Tool Information may be incorrect and/or out of date. Confirm details with the tool provider.

As part of the Government of Canada’s National Action Plan on Posttraumatic Stress Injuries, PSPNET is offering and evaluating Internet-delivered cognitive behaviour therapy, also known as ICBT, specifically tailored for current and former Public...

Visit PSPNET (Public Safety Personnel)

More Information:

Adults / Seniors

Mental Health 101

The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health
This tool is not administered by Nova Scotia Health Authority. Tool Information may be incorrect and/or out of date. Confirm details with the tool provider.

Knowledge is power. This series of free online tutorials is a starting point for learning about mental health.​ You can come away with a greater understanding of the mental health concern you are interested in knowing more about. The tutorials can...

Visit Mental Health 101

More Information:

Adults / Seniors / Youth

32 Program(s)

Access Wellness Nova Scotia

This service is not administered by Nova Scotia Health Authority. Service Information may be incorrect and/or out of date. Confirm details with the service provider.

Access Wellness is a free single-session supportive counselling service for individuals, couples or families. 

Sessions can be held over the phone, online with video, or in-person. People can speak with a qualified professional and learn strategies...

Adults / Seniors / Youth

Mental Health Acute Day Hospital

The Mental Health Acute Day Hospital cares for people with intense mental health issues or concerns. We offer:

  • More closely monitored care than what is offered by community MHA clinics
  • Support after you are discharged from an inpatient psychiatric...
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Adults

Union of Nova Scotia Mi’kmaq - Mental Wellness Team

This service is not administered by Nova Scotia Health Authority. Service Information may be incorrect and/or out of date. Confirm details with the service provider.

The Union of Nova Scotia Mi’kmaq Mental Wellness Team provides case management and service navigation for First Nations persons of all ages seeking mental wellness services.

We work in collaboration with relevant community and provincial...

Adults / Children / Seniors / Youth
First Nations, Indigenous

Indian Residential Schools Crisis Line

This service is not administered by Nova Scotia Health Authority. Service Information may be incorrect and/or out of date. Confirm details with the service provider.

The Indian Residential Schools Crisis Line is available 24-hours a day for anyone experiencing pain or distress as a result of their residential school experience. Call 1-866-925-4419
There are no fees associated with use and this service is...

Adults / Seniors
First Nations, Indigenous

IWK Mental Health and Addictions Program

IWK
This service is not administered by Nova Scotia Health Authority. Service Information may be incorrect and/or out of date. Confirm details with the service provider.

The IWK Mental Health and  Addictions Program provides specialized care throughout the province for children and youth up until their 19th birthday within a patient and family...

Children / Youth

Canadian Mental Health Association - Colchester East Hants Branch

This service is not administered by Nova Scotia Health Authority. Service Information may be incorrect and/or out of date. Confirm details with the service provider.

The Canadian Mental Health Association, Colchester East Hants Branch provides public education, advocacy, and a resource center to support the resiliency and recovery of people...

Adults / Seniors

Canadian Mental Health Association - Halifax-Dartmouth Branch

This service is not administered by Nova Scotia Health Authority. Service Information may be incorrect and/or out of date. Confirm details with the service provider.

The Canadian Mental Health Association, Halifax-Dartmouth Branch works at the community level and facilitates access to the resources people require to maintain and improve...

Adults / Seniors

Canadian Mental Health Association - Nova Scotia Division

This service is not administered by Nova Scotia Health Authority. Service Information may be incorrect and/or out of date. Confirm details with the service provider.

Canadian Mental Health Associations in Nova Scotia are the oldest community-based mental health and addictions charitable organizations in the province, founded in 1908. The CMHA...

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Adults / Seniors

Healthy Minds Cooperative

This service is not administered by Nova Scotia Health Authority. Service Information may be incorrect and/or out of date. Confirm details with the service provider.

Healthy Minds Cooperative is an innovative mental health cooperative that provides a variety of peer-based services to people with lived experience of mental health issues and to...

Adults / Seniors

Eskasoni Mental Health

This service is not administered by Nova Scotia Health Authority. Service Information may be incorrect and/or out of date. Confirm details with the service provider.

Eskasoni Mental Health Services (EMHS) provides a wide range of services to the Mi’kmaq people of Eskasoni, Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. The Tui'kn Residential School Survivor Team...

Adults / Seniors / Youth
First Nations, Indigenous

Caregivers Nova Scotia

This service is not administered by Nova Scotia Health Authority. Service Information may be incorrect and/or out of date. Confirm details with the service provider.

Caregivers Nova Scotia provides free programs, services, information, and advocacy for family and friend caregivers. We are dedicated to providing recognition and practical assistance to friends and family giving care.

Adults / Seniors
Caregiver, Family

211

211
This service is not administered by Nova Scotia Health Authority. Service Information may be incorrect and/or out of date. Confirm details with the service provider.

211 is a free, confidential information and referral service that can connect you to thousands of programs and services offered by local community groups, nonprofits and government departments across Nova Scotia, 24/7.

Adults / Children / Seniors / Youth

Canadian Forces Morale and Welfare Services - Mental Health Programs and Services

This service is not administered by Nova Scotia Health Authority. Service Information may be incorrect and/or out of date. Confirm details with the service provider.

Canadian Forces Morale and Welfare Services (CFMWS) is responsible for administering Non-Public Property (NPP) on behalf of the Chief of the Defence Staff and for delivering...

Adults / Seniors
Canadian Forces, RCMP

Veterans Affairs Canada Assistance Service

This service is not administered by Nova Scotia Health Authority. Service Information may be incorrect and/or out of date. Confirm details with the service provider.

Veterans Affairs provide targeted services and benefits to improve well-being including support and services related to your physical and mental health and wellness.The VAC...

Adults / Seniors
Canadian Forces, RCMP

Families Matter in Mental Health

This service is not administered by Nova Scotia Health Authority. Service Information may be incorrect and/or out of date. Confirm details with the service provider.

Families Matter in Mental Health is an 11-week education and support program for family or friends who are providing practical and/or emotional support to someone who has a...

Adults
Caregiver, Family

Health Psychology

Health Psychology offers psychological interventions for those with chronic and acute health conditions. The main focus is on the patient's mental and emotional reaction to an illness or their recovery from an illness.

Adults

Wellness Court

Wellness Court Programs are specialty or problem-solving courts, where a team of professionals helps treat the issues contributing to the individual coming into conflict with the...

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Adults

Geriatric Psychiatry Acute Inpatient Unit

The Geriatric Psychiatry Acute Inpatient Unit is for individuals over the age of 65 with a new onset of mental illness or for individuals of any age with dementia and complicated medical and/or psychological symptoms.

Seniors

Geriatric Psychiatry Outpatient Program

Seniors mental health services provide assessment, consultation and treatments to:

  • seniors aged 65 and older for a new onset of mental health challenges
  • individuals of any age...
Seniors

DaRT Program

The Dynamic (attachment-focused) Relational Therapy Program (DaRT) is a part-time six week intensive group psychotherapy program. It is a treatment program that is designed to support adults who have experienced complex emotional trauma resulting in...

Adults

Adult Neurodevelopmental Stabilization Unit - Dual Diagnosis Program (Intellectual Disability in combination with Mental Illness)

The Adult Neurodevelopmental Stabilization Unit (ANSU) is an acute care unit that provides services for persons with intellectual disability and acute mental illness that cannot...

Adults

Nova Scotia Operational Stress Injury (OSI) Clinic

The Nova Scotia Operational Stress Injury Clinic (NSOSIC) belongs to a national network of OSI Clinics funded by Veterans Affairs Canada. The clinic provides mental health...

Adults / Seniors
Canadian Forces, RCMP

Inpatient Mental Health Services

Inpatient mental health services are available for those who cannot be safely assessed, diagnosed and stabilized in the community. 

Adults / Seniors

Crossroads Clubhouse

Crossroads Cape Breton is community organized to support people living with mental illness in reclaiming and enhancing their lives. People are referred to as “members” because...

Adults / Seniors

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