Dr Nick Coatsworth shares his mental health diagnosis with Karl Stefanovic today

A renowned Australian doctor has shared details of his serious mental health battle before taking on one of the country’s top healthcare jobs.

Former deputy chief health officer Dr Nick Coatsworth had opened up about his diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder just months before he took on one of the nation’s finest medical jobs.

When the Covid-19 pandemic reached Australia, the infectious disease expert was appointed one of three deputy chief health officers.

The promotion came just months after she was diagnosed with PTSD.

Dr Coatsworth developed a mental health disorder during his trip to central Africa as part of a volunteer assignment with Doctors Without Borders.

In the Darfur region of Sudan where he described constant fear of death and kidnapping threats.

On one occasion an explosion went off in the hospital where he worked. Militia stormed and he was forced to evacuate his crew out the back door.

“I think everyone has limits in their life,” Dr Coatsworth told Today Show host Karl Stefanovic on Wednesday morning.

“Constant pressure for four and a half months, I started getting symptoms.”

He described the feeling of heart palpitations so intense that he thought he was going to have a heart attack.

When she returned home, her symptoms not only persisted but also worsened over time.

“I’m taking my pulse around the clock to make sure I’m still around,” he said.

“It was until one weekend when I couldn’t leave the house that I sat there enjoying the Nordic Crime Thriller dealing with it.”

Doctors say a big sign he needs help is when he starts to get angry with a coworker, a line he’s never crossed before.

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It took a lot of convincing from his wife Rebecca before he finally sought help from a GP.

She was referred to a psychologist – who diagnosed her with PTSD – and prescribed medication to manage her anxiety for a year.

A few months later he received a career-defining phone call that offered him a job as the chief health officer’s right-hand man.

“This is the first time I thought, ‘should I do this job?’ I had to go ahead and do it, of course, but it was a tough decision,” recalls Dr Coatswoth.

“It’s so powerful you tell this story,” Stefanovic said.

“Here we have one of Australia’s most famous people, a very capable intelligent man, seemingly impenetrable with confidence and a bit broken inside.”

Dr Coatsworth encourages Australians to track when mental health issues begin to affect their daily lives and listen to loved ones who advise seeking professional help.

“The biggest hurdle is acknowledging that you need help first,” he says.

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