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4 Early Signs of PTSD
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When you know the signs and symptoms of PTSD, you can seek treatment and start fighting back against your mind earlier.
Could knowing the early signs of PTSD affect how much it affects a person’s life? The severity of the impact of post-traumatic stress disorder stress disorder varies person to person. It may cause minor daily inconveniences for some, such as the inability to go to a certain place. For others, though, the effects of PTSD are completely debilitating.
When left untreated for months or years, post-traumatic stress disorder becomes more difficult to treat. People with the disorder tend to frame their day around limiting the chances of experiencing symptoms. But if you know what to look for from the beginning, you can start seeking help and treatment earlier. The sooner you start treating the signs of PTSD, the less chance it has to settle in and wreak havoc on your life.
70 percent of adults in America, or 223.4 million people, have experienced at least some sort of traumatic experience in their life at least once. What are some of the early signs of PTSD? How can you stay aware and know what to keep an eye out for? Continue reading to learn more about post-traumatic stress disorder and how to know when you might have it.
Learning More about Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
Unlike many other common mental disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder is not one you are born with. PTSD develops as the 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
Again, 70 percent of American adults go through at least one traumatic event in their life. Not everyone develops the condition afterwards, 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.
Post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms 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 afterwards once something triggers the suppressed memories.
4 Signs of PTSD to Look For
So what are some of the signs of PTSD to look out for? 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
What do each of these mean and how can you know to look for these signs of PTSD?
1. Vividly remembering or recalling the event.
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.
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 won’t go to a certain bar or city or they won’t 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.
Arousal and reactivity symptoms are another behavioral symptom of post-traumatic stress disorder. These symptoms usually show themselves as extreme episodes of anxiety, frustration, anger, or rage. When someone doesn’t 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 symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder 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. If you know someone struggling with the effects, give us a call at 877-721-3556 to find out some of your available options.