As shocking instances of mass shootings continue to occur all over the United States, we often hear people talk about Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD. Frequently associated with post-war veterans and victims of mass violence, PTSD is a psychiatric disorder that can develop in people who’ve experienced or witnessed a traumatic or life-threatening event.
However, there are many other instances of trauma that can cause someone to develop PTSD besides combat or witnessing a terrorist attack. Anyone of any age that has experienced a violent or sexual assault, a natural disaster, a car accident or any other shocking or dangerous event is at risk of developing PTSD. If you’re concerned you or a loved one may be suffering from PTSD, here are some signs to look out for.
Reliving the Event
Someone with PTSD will have involuntary re-experiences of the trauma through nightmares, flashbacks, triggers, and unwanted thoughts or memories. Sounds or smells may take them back to the traumatic experience, or they may develop physical ailments when they’re reminded of or remember the event.
Symptoms of Arousal and Reactivity
PTSD sufferers will frequently feel on edge, unsafe or be easily startled. They may be prone to anger, agitation, or sadness. It’s also common for victims of PTSD to have trouble sleeping or concentrating, and they may develop changes in their eating habits by either eating too much or too little.
An individual suffering from PTSD may begin to avoid the area where they experienced the event, or areas that remind them of what happened. They may also avoid people, events or objects that bring negative memories forward. It’s also common for people with PTSD to avoid talking about the situation, or avoiding feelings related to the event.
Negative Thoughts and Feelings
Feelings of shame, self-blame, and exaggerated negative beliefs are common in people with PTSD. They may lose interest in things they once enjoyed, and isolate themselves from friends and loved ones. It’s also not uncommon for people with PTSD to entirely lose trust in people, or to believe that the world is a dangerous place.
After experiencing a traumatic 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 their ability to function.
If you’re worried you might be suffering from Posttraumatic Stress Disorder and need the help of a licensed professional, please call my office today and let’s set up an appointment to talk.
Chelsy A. Castro, JD, MA, AM, LCSW