Do I Have PTSD? Recognizing the Signs

Behavioral Health and Trauma Recovery Services, P.C., is dedicated to providing accurate education about Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD, and severe stress reactions. As shocking instances of mass shootings continue to occur all over the United States, or as our service members return from overseas conflict and war, we often hear the media talk about this term “PTSD”; unfortunately, the “facts” tend to be more myths and inaccurate information. PTSD is a psychiatric disorder that can develop in people who’ve experienced or witnessed a traumatic or life-threatening event. If you are experiencing PTSD and/or a severe stress reaction, you are not weak, you are not crazy, and this does not mean you are automatically a violent or dangerous individual.

There are many incidents of trauma exposure that may lead to the development of PTSD or subclinical symptoms of PTSD, such as symptoms of posttraumatic stress or a stress reaction that can impact daily functioning. Symptoms of posttraumatic stress do not discriminate; anyone of any age that has experienced a violent or sexual assault, domestic violence, active shooter, a natural disaster, a traumatic car accident, military-related combat trauma, military related non-combat trauma (i.e., constant threat of loss of life where stationed, exposure to dead bodies, search and recovery, traveling outside the wire), disasters or critical incidents as related to first responder work (i.e., threat of loss of life, collecting human remains, or repeated exposure to details of child abuse), witnessing violence, or any other shocking or dangerous event, is at risk of developing posttraumatic stress symptoms or a stress reaction . If you’re concerned you or a loved one may be suffering from PTSD, or symptoms of posttraumatic stress or a stress reaction, here are some signs to look for.

Reliving the Event

Someone with posttraumatic stress or a stress reaction may have involuntary re-experiencing of the trauma or stressful event through nightmares, flashbacks, or unwanted/intrusive thoughts or memories. Sounds or smells, or even talking about the event, may take a person back to the traumatic experience, or result in physical ailments (i.e., upset stomach, heart racing, labored breathing, sweating).

Symptoms of Arousal and Reactivity

Someone with posttraumatic stress or a stress reaction may frequently feel on edge, hypervigilant, unsafe, or be easily startled. The person may be prone to anger, agitation, irritability, or sadness. It’s also common to experience trouble sleeping or concentrating, as well as changes in eating habits by either eating too much or too little. Essentially, the persons fight-flight-freeze response is always activated.

Avoidance Behavior

Someone with posttraumatic stress or a stress reaction may begin to avoid people, places, events, or objects where the traumatic or stressful event was experienced or that serve as reminders of the trauma. It’s also common to avoid talking about the situation, or to avoid memories or feelings related to the event.

Negative Thoughts and Feelings

Someone with posttraumatic stress or a stress reaction may experience feelings of shame, guilt/self-blame, worthlessness, and exaggerated negative beliefs about others. A person may lose interest in things once enjoyed, and isolation may occur from friends and loved ones. It’s also not uncommon to entirely lose trust in people, feel powerless/out of control, or to believe that the world is a dangerous place.

After experiencing a traumatic or stressful life event, it’s natural for someone to have any of the symptoms listed above. However, for people suffering from PTSD, the symptoms persist for weeks, months, or even longer and begin to affect the ability to function in daily life.

If you’re worried you might be suffering from Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), or symptoms of posttraumatic stress or a stress reaction, please call the practice and schedule your first session, as early intervention is key to recovery!

To learn more and get started with counseling services, please contact us today, we would love to hear from you!