By David Joel Miller.
Could you have PTSD?
There is a whole lot more Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) around than we would like to recognize. People struggle with the symptoms, sometimes for a lifetime. Often they think they are weak or crazy when in fact they have a recognized illness. PTSD is treatable, if only those who have it would seek help.
There are three main causes of PTSD. One huge source of the illness is living though the horrors of war, either as a combatant or a civilian in a war zone. The recurring theme of so many young Americans sent off to wars in distant lands guarantee’s that we will be seeing an expanding number of PTSD cases for years to come.
Other large groups with PTSD are children who were abused and those who have been victims of domestic violence. There can be other sources of PTSD, such as witnessing a violent death or living through a natural disaster.
So what are the warning signs that you or someone you know has PTSD?
With PTSD you relive the horror day after day.
If the memory never goes away, you have recurrent thoughts about that time, that place, and it upsets you, these are all signs of PTSD. The key here is, are the thoughts intrusive? Some people especially young children get “stuck” they relive the events over and over, incorporating the things they have experienced into their play and their daily routines
The pain of PTSD follows you into your dreams.
We all have dreams; the mind tries to work out problems and save memories. Dreams in PTSD are different. The same dream recurs. It is as if you are living through the event all over again. People with PTSD can wake up screaming. If you are afraid to go to sleep for fear you will have that dream again or you don’t remember the last time you had a full night’s sleep you should be checked out for PTSD.
The feeling that the trauma is still happening is a sign of PTSD.
The trauma does not slip into the past. Every day you live through it again. This feeling of reliving the horror can be heightened by alcohol, some drugs or a new traumatic event.
If you avoid feelings, thoughts and can’t talk about the trauma it may be PTSD.
Many returning veterans have never been able to talk about the things they experienced. When they do talk, it is usual only with other military veterans who have had similar experiences. Many with PTSD are never able to talk about their trauma outside a peer group.
Avoiding anything that reminds you of the trauma is a symptom of PTSD.
Holiday celebrations, people who wear particular cultural styles of clothing, smells and ethnic foods, all of these can trigger a recurrence of symptoms. These recurrences are not just memories but reliving both the facts and the feelings of the first event. People with PTSD may panic and be unable to be around particular things that remind them of the traumatic incident.
Blackouts and memory gaps are common in people with PTSD.
People with PTSD may be horrifically frightened of things that remind them of the trauma but unable to recall large parts of the incident. Frequently important facts are forgotten. They see small details with great accuracy but other important parts of the story are lost in the fog.
With PTSD you experience a loss of connection.
People with PTSD lose interest in people and things around them. They find it difficult to participate in activities with others. They may become detached or unable to feel. They don’t see themselves as having a future, no family, no career. They don’t expect to live long.
Lots of episodes of sudden excessive emotions may be PTSD.
If you have PTSD you may suddenly become angry. You may be extra anxious, jump at the smallest sound. You many have trouble concentrating, be irritable and unable to relax or sleep.
A precise diagnosis of PTSD should be made by a professional. There are other illnesses and problems that could resemble this condition. But if you experienced trauma you probably recognized yourself in this list.
For more information on Stress and PTSD see:
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For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse and Co-occurring disorders see the about the author page. For information about my other writing work beyond this blog check out my Google+ page or the Facebook author’s page, up under David Joel Miller. Posts to the “books, trainings and classes” category will tell you about those activities. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books