**Trigger Warning: The topic of trauma is discussed extensively in the article. Symptoms of PTSD, including depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts are also mentioned or discussed in detail.**
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a complicated disorder brought upon by a multitude of factors. Though everyone has an idea of what PTSD is, most of the public is still unaware of all the potential causes of PTSD and exactly how it shows up in a person. Furthermore, it also shares many of the same symptoms as other mental illnesses and disorders, which can complicate a potential diagnosis.
So if you have experienced a traumatic event, it may not always be clear if you have developed PTSD or not. This article will shed some light on the workings of PTSD and its common symptoms. At the end of the article, you will have a better idea of whether or not you may have PTSD, making it easier for you to obtain a professional diagnosis.
What Is PTSD?
PTSD is an anxiety disorder that develops after a traumatic event. The event often exposes the person to death or threatens them with it. The brain goes into survival mode to protect the person as much as possible but does not turn off after the event is over. PTSD results from the brain believing that the person is still in danger long after the danger has passed.
Multiple people could experience the same traumatic event and not all get PTSD. Why is this? PTSD is a complex disorder, so it is not easy to predict who will develop PTSD and who won’t. However, research has suggested that genetics may play a part. Furthermore, people who have a support network (friends, family, therapist, etc.) or good coping strategies are also less likely to develop PTSD.
PTSD is not a disorder to dismiss or neglect. It can completely change a person and affect every aspect of their life. However, symptoms of PTSD are not always well understood by the general public. If you have experienced a traumatic event, read on to learn about common signs and symptoms that may suggest you have PTSD.
Commons Signs Of PTSD
You Are Constantly On Edge
As an anxiety disorder, PTSD inevitably brings up emotions of anxiety, irritability, and even increased anger. The brain is constantly in survival mode, and therefore it makes the person jumpy and on edge constantly. They act as though they are ready to fight off something dangerous, even though the danger passed long ago.
You Have Difficulty Sleeping
Sleeping disorders are common for people living with PTSD. The most common disorder is insomnia which can manifest as having difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep.
Sleeping disorders can occur for various reasons for people with PTSD. However, they are most commonly caused by anxiety, depression, negative thoughts, or nightmares that are a common occurrence of the disorder.
You Are Overwhelmed By Negative Emotions or A Mental Illness
People living with PTSD are often overwhelmed by negative emotions. Not only does this include anxiety and irritability, but also depression and potentially suicidal thoughts. Sometimes people with PTSD are misdiagnosed with another mental illness because of the negative emotions they feel. However, these mental illnesses are often symptoms of a bigger problem, not the end issue themselves.
You Relive The Trauma In Some Way
When living with PTSD, the brain is essentially stuck in time at the moment the traumatic event occurred. As a result, it keeps the body in constant survival mode as though the traumatic event is still occurring.
So one symptom that occurs often is that people who live with PTSD often relive the trauma in some way. Even though they may repress the memory, avoid all reminders of the event, and never speak about it, the brain finds a way to keep reliving it.
This can manifest in a myriad of ways. One common way is nightmares, which contributes to the sleeping disorders that plague the survivors. Another way is through flashbacks of the event, which can occur at any time.
Reliving does not necessarily need to include a mental image of the event. Sometimes just being around a thing or place associated with the trauma can bring up physical symptoms or extreme emotional distress. This is also considered reliving the trauma as the survivor is reliving the physical and emotional symptoms they experienced when the event originally occurred.
Your Symptoms Are Interfering With Your Life
Just experiencing a few of these symptoms is not enough to be diagnosed with PTSD. The symptoms need to be severe enough to interfere with your life. People living with PTSD often struggle at work, school, and home because their symptoms prevent them from living a calm, normal life.
For example, they may be agitated or have anxiety at work, even if there is little stress or few deadlines. They may also be agitated or on edge at home, potentially hurting their relationships with their family.
You Have Experienced These Symptoms For More Than A Month
PTSD is considered more of a longer-term disorder. This means that psychologists and other medical professionals don’t consider the above symptoms as PTSD until at least a month has passed. While people with other mental health conditions only need to exhibit symptoms for two weeks before being diagnosed, PTSD needs a longer timeframe.
Almost everyone experiences some of these symptoms in the days or weeks after a traumatic event. Therefore, diagnosing PTSD soon after the event has occurred would be misguided. About a month after the trauma occurred, most people show signs of healing and moving forward. Depending on the trauma, they may still not be normal, but there will be some progress.
However, people with PTSD will still experience extreme emotional distress and little overall improvement, making it obvious that the brain and body are not healing or moving forward.
If these symptoms are familiar to you, then you may be living with PTSD. However, only a medical professional can give you an official diagnosis. Talk with your doctor or a psychologist about your symptoms. They will give an accurate diagnosis and discuss treatment options with you.
If you wish to learn more about PTSD and its symptoms, head on to BetterHelp for more information.