Do you know the signs?
Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a behavioral health condition that is developed by some people who are exposed to a traumatic event such as a sexual assault, accident, war, and other forms of interpersonal violence. People can be exposed to traumatic events in a few ways:
- witnessing the event occurring to someone else
- learning that the traumatic events occurred to a close family member or loved one
- or experiencing repeated or extreme exposure to disturbing details of the events
What are the sings/symptoms?
PTSD symptoms can be classified into 4 main categories:
- Intrusion Symptoms: The person may have recurrent and distressing memories of the event. These could occur in dreams that have similar content or emotions related to the event. Sometimes, these intrusive memories/experiences could feel as though the event was actually recurring. The person may feel intense fear or distress when confronted with reminders of the event.
- Avoidance Symptoms: Because reminders of the event can trigger intense emotional and/or physical reactions, the individual may begin to avoid people, places or situations that remind them of the event.
- Negative changes in thinking or mood: Some individual will have difficulty remembering important aspects of what happened. They may experience persistent negative or distorted views about themselves, the world or the cause of the events. Additionally, some may find themselves struggling with negative mood states that they cannot seem to shake: such as feelings of guilt, shame, feeling detached or disconnected.
- Reactivity/Arousal Symptoms: Some common experiences are irritability, feeling “keyed up,” reckless behavior, startling easily, problems with concentration, and/or sleep difficulties.
Exposure to a traumatic event does not always result in the development of PTSD, but somewhere between 20-25% of those exposed, could go on to develop post-traumatic reactions that can significantly interfere with daily life. If you or a loved one has been exposed to a traumatic event and are experiencing some of the symptoms above for several days and/or notice these symptoms are worsening, an assessment from a trauma-informed therapist could help determine if therapy is appropriate. PTSD is a challenging condition that can affect all areas of life, however, there are various supports and treatment approaches available and recovery is possible.
For more information on PTSD or to locate a provider near you: