The Symptoms of PTSD
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental condition that results in a series of emotional and physical reactions in individuals who have either witnessed or experienced a traumatic event. Events that cause the individual to fear for personal life and wellbeing — such as a car collision or other accident, a physical or sexual assault, long-term abuse, torture, a natural disaster, living in a war zone, or life-altering experiences like the death of a loved one — can all spur the following PTSD symptoms…
1. Physical Pain
PTSD will often begin with a series of common physical ailments—such as headaches or migraines, dizziness, fatigue, chest pain, breathing difficulties, and stomach and digestive issues. At first, the person might not realize that their pain is related to their PTSD. Studies suggest that 15% to 35% of people who suffer from chronic pain also have PTSD.
2. Nightmares or Flashbacks
It is very common for those with PTSD to suffer nightmares or flashbacks in which the person suddenly and vividly re-lives the traumatic event in a repetitive manner. Known as re-experiencing, it can enter dreams or come on suddenly in waking images or sensations of physical and emotional pain and fear. It may cause both children and adult sufferers to have sleeping difficulties and anxiety leaving the safety of home. These symptoms can be extremely terrifying for the individual, because they are reliving their trauma all over again. These nightmares or flashbacks can be triggered by something whether its thoughts, smells, something someone said, or a noise.
3. Depression or Anxiety
Mental phobias, which professionals deem as irrational and persistent fear and avoidance of certain objects or situations can cause extreme anxiety in PTSD sufferers to the point where it causes paranoia and depression.
Both adults and children with PTSD who also have solid social lives and interests may suddenly lose interest in their favorite hobbies, activities, and friends that they used to be very passionate about. Seeking out risky behavior can also be a form of escapism through drug or alcohol abuse, or thrill seeking. 5. Avoidance Avoidance of any physical or mental stimuli that reminds them of a past traumatic event can be a typical symptom of PTSD. For example, those involved in tragic car collisions may avoid driving and commuting in a car. PTSD can also cause particular avoidance of places or people that remind you of the traumatic experience.
Repression, or the intentional blockage of memories associated with a past event or experience, is also a symptom of PTSD. The person may destroy pictures or memorabilia of a time in their life or attempt to distracting themselves by throwing themselves into work.
7. Emotional Numbing
It is very common for those with PTSD to try to numb their feelings because it is hard to suffer pain when you do not feel any emotion at all. Emotional numbing often leads to the gradual withdrawal and eventually complete isolation from social circles.
It is common for people with PTSD to suffer jitters so severe that it becomes impossible to relax due to the fear of threats. These individuals can be characterized as “on edge” and “jumpy” or easily frightened. Arousal symptoms are usually constant, instead of being triggered by something that brings back memories of the traumatic event. They can make the person feel stressed and angry. These symptoms may make it hard to do daily tasks, such as sleeping, eating, or concentrating.
This state of constant fear and paranoia can cause extreme PTSD-associated irritability, indecisiveness, and a total lack of concentration, sleeplessness, and difficulty maintaining personal relationships.
10. Guilt and Shame
Those PTSD patients who can’t get past their negative experience may find it difficult to move forward and maintain a healthy life. They may blame themselves and constantly relive the event, wondering how they could have prevented it. Often, immense shame and guilt will set in if they blame themselves for the tragedy.
The above list of PTSD symptoms is not exhaustive. If you think you are experiencing PTSD, you need to seek care from a healthcare professional even if your symptoms are different than those listed here.