Throughout your life, it is common to go through periods where you experience events that are traumatic. You may also have episodes where events put you on edge and it affects everything in your life. You may have trouble eating, sleeping, and functioning in your daily life. Worse yet, you avoid people, places, and things that remind you of those troubling times—and it severely impacted your well-being. If this is occurring to you, you could be displaying the signs of a serious mental condition called post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
What is PTSD?
Simply defined, PTSD develops as a result of experiencing a terrifying or traumatic event. Most people who think of PTSD think of soldiers who return from war. In reality, these traumatic events can be any number of different things, including:
- Living through war, either as a soldier or a civilian
- Severe automobile accidents
- Living through the impact of a natural disaster
- Extreme neglect, especially during developmental years
- Child abuse including psychological, physical, and sexual abuse
- Sexual assault or prolonged/repeated sexual abuse
- Physical assault, such as being jumped or attacked
- The death of a loved one, friend or pet
It is estimated that 70 percent of American adults go through at least one traumatic event in their life. Not everyone develops the condition afterward, though. About 20 percent of people either currently live with or lived with PTSD at some point in their life. Further, research suggests that about 8 percent of the population, or 24.4 million people, live with PTSD at any given time.
This might seem like a small number of people compared to the more than 330 million people in the United States. To provide some comparison, the equivalent of the population in the entire state of Texas shows signs of PTSD at any given point in time.
The signs of PTSD usually develop and start to show themselves within three months of the traumatic event. Some people block the event out as a defense mechanism, though. These people may not show signs of PTSD until years afterward once something triggers the suppressed memories.
4 Signs of PTSD to look for
Do you think you or a loved one might be suffering from PTSD? If so, you will need to seek professional help and undergo a comprehensive evaluation. There are signs of PTSD the doctors diagnose post-traumatic stress disorder in those who show four main groups of symptoms for a minimum of a month. The following four indicators help clinicians determine whether or not someone has the disorder:
- One re-experiencing symptom
- One avoidance symptom
- Two arousal or reactivity symptoms
- Two mood or cognition symptoms
The following are the four common signs of PTSD you or a loved one may experience in your daily life:
1. Vividly remembering or recalling the event
A major sign of PTSD is the re-experiencing symptoms describe when someone remembers the event to the point of almost “reliving” it. Some people may only recall what happened and experience stress or anxiety as a result. Others with more chronic symptoms truly revert back to the mindset they were in during the event.
2. Avoiding certain thoughts or places
Another sign of PTSD is the avoidance symptoms are behavioral signs of PTSD that refer to an individual who tries to stay away from thoughts, places, or things that remind them of the traumatic event. This might mean they will not go to a certain bar or city or they will not participate in the activity they were doing when the event took place.
When the traumatic event happened at home, in the workplace, or somewhere near where they live it can lead to significant inconveniences. Some people may live with such severe symptoms that they rarely leave their house.
3. Extreme reactions to seemingly normal events
Additionally, arousal and reactivity symptoms are other behavioral symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. These symptoms usually show themselves as extreme episodes of anxiety, frustration, anger, or rage. When someone does not immediately address and resolve the impact of a traumatic event, these arousal and reactivity symptoms take over as a coping mechanism.
4. Severely impacted mood or functioning
Post-traumatic stress disorder displays itself in impacted mood and cognitive ability. Often described as an inability to focus or “think straight,” these symptoms may make it difficult to fully engage in day-to-day life after the event. Mood disorders like depression and generalized anxiety commonly develop during the aftermath of a traumatic event.
How to Treat Signs of PTSD
When you address the signs and symptoms of PTSD early on you have a better chance of limiting their impact. One of the ways to treat PTSD is through specific counseling practices that certain clinicians specialize in. Many people show signs of improvement with the use of eye-movement desensitization and reprocessing therapy, or EMDR.
Seeking out a treatment facility that offers these specialized types of treatment early on will help decrease the effects of PTSD. Hawaii Island Recovery provides EMDR as well as a number of other treatments for those with post-traumatic stress disorder.