Many people associate Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD, solely with war veterans. This is no surprise, as PTSD is usually taught as being a condition that affects veterans, and most advertisements for the treatment of PTSD are covered in images of soldiers. Of course, veterans do suffer from PTSD. As of two years ago, over 2 million veterans had either been officially diagnosed with PTSD or were suffering from symptoms connected to the trauma they experienced. However, PTSD also affects people who have experienced other types of trauma besides war, such as rape or abuse. Whatever trauma initiated the disorder aside, PTSD is a very serious condition that is dangerous when left untreated. Therefore, look out for the signs and symptoms that indicate that there is a problem.
PTSD can come in many forms, but there are a few core symptoms that manifest. In order to be formally diagnosed with the disorder, an individual must be experiencing all of the following symptoms for over a month:
Reexperiencing symptoms are driven by triggers, or anything that reminds someone suffering from PTSD of their traumatic event. These symptoms can take the form of reliving the trauma in a physical manner, meaning the sufferer thinks he or she is back in the traumatic event and reacts accordingly, having bad dreams, or experiencing random onsets of thoughts related to the event. These symptoms can be catalyzed by any reminder of the traumatic event that is out in the world, or even by one’s own thoughts and feelings.
Nobody wants to remember a traumatic event, but those suffering from PTSD go to great lengths to avoid unpleasant memories. Some of this manifests physically, as one can start avoiding people, places, and things that could in any way be connected to or a reminder of the event. Other forms take place mentally and emotionally. PTSD sufferers may become increasingly anxious or guilty, or may simply shut down emotion entirely. They may report experiencing no joy from things they’ve loved to do in the past, and can even experience a memory lapse around the traumatic event.
Arousal and Reactivity
Another indicator that an individual is suffering from PTSD is the onset of symptoms that appear without triggers. This involves becoming easily startled, despite not being so before. It can also include constantly feeling anxious and tense, and no longer being able to get a full night of sleep. Random bouts of intense anger may also be present.
Memory and Mood
Affected mood and memory are present in the above categories of symptoms, but are also categorized alone. Lapses in memory surrounding the traumatic event are common in those suffering from PTSD. Symptoms common in those with depression may also affect the sufferer’s mood, which can take the form of a loss of interest in activities, intense feelings of guilt, and lashing out at oneself.
It is important to remember that PTSD can affect anyone at any age. Children react differently than adults, and not all sufferers of PTSD have the same symptoms, but the above can serve as a base guideline for what to look out for in someone you may think is experiencing PTSD.
For more information, visit New Horizon Counseling Center.