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Posttraumatic stress disorder: Tools and resources

Primary care providers

  • The DREAMS mnemonic helps clinicians to determine whether the person has symptoms of PTSD:

Detached: Is the person feeling detached from others?

Re-experiencing: Is the person reliving the trauma?

Emotional: Is the person in distress?

Avoidance: Is the person avoiding stimuli that trigger trauma memories?

Months: Have the symptoms been present for one month or more?

Sympathetic hyperarousal: Is the person showing autonomic arousal?

  • The SPAN mnemonic is another useful way to determine whether the person has PTSD symptoms:

Startle reaction: "Have you been jumpy or easily startled?"

Physiological distress: "Have you been physically upset by reminders of the event?

Anger: "Have you been irritable or had outbursts of anger?"

Numbness: "Have you been unable to have sad or loving feelings?"

Many women who seek help from front-line services have experienced violence and trauma. Often they do not recognize that many of their difficulties may be associated with responses to complex posttraumatic stress. "Bridging Responses" is a resource for front-line staff in health care, literacy, corrections, housing and community services who work with women.

Clients and families

Anxiety B.C. offers self-help strategies for PTSD, including anxiety management tools.

The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health offers a photo-novella (story in photographs) for clients and families about PTSD as experienced by a child refugee. It is available in seven languages.

The National Center for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder of the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs offers information about PTSD, including resources for military veterans.

The Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Association of Canada provides self-help information and links for clients and families.


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