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Do You Think You May Be Experiencing Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)?

The symptoms of trauma may surface in the weeks following an event, or even years later. Often people don’t realize that what they are experiencing is rooted in trauma.

Your symptoms may even be misdiagnosed as another condition such as clinical depression, bipolar, anxiety, obsessive-compulsiveness, or a personality disorder. In the case of children, diagnoses may include attention deficit and disruptive disorders, separation anxiety, reactive attachment disorder, and oppositional defiant or conduct disorders.

Below are common post-traumatic stress symptoms:

  • Intrusive memories, thoughts, or images of the traumatic incident
  • Nightmares
  • Flashbacks- acting or feeling as if the traumatic event were recurring
  • Intense distress, physical reactions and sensations upon exposure to reminders of the trauma (nausea, difficulty breathing, increased heart rate, faintness, fear, worry, and hurt)
  • Avoidance of thoughts, feelings, or conversations associated with the trauma
  • Avoidance of activities, places, or people that cause recollections of trauma
  • Inability to recall important aspects of the trauma
  • Diminished interest or participation in significant activities, personal relationships or work
  • Feeling of detachment or estrangement from others
  • Unable to experience pleasure, joy, or loving feelings
  • Sense of a foreshortened future (e.g. do not expect to have a career, marriage, children or a normal life)
  • Difficulty falling or staying asleep
  • Irritability
  • Restlessness and poor concentration
  • Forgetfulness
  • Anger outbursts
  • Frequent mood swings
  • Emotional numbing
  • Social withdrawal
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Suicidal thoughts or thoughts of not wanting to live
  • Hallucinations (tactile, auditory and visual)
  • Prolonged medical problems
  • Substance abuse
  • Marital disruption
  • Premature job change
  • Hyper-vigilance – a chronic state of fear/intense worry that something else is about to happen, constant state of alert
  • Exaggerated startle response – jumpy and easily startled by sounds, sights, smells, or situations that remind you of what happened

It is normal to experience any of these symptoms following an exposure to a traumatic event. However, if your symptoms persist beyond 4-6 weeks after the incident, then it is important to seek appropriate help from a trauma specialist.

Trauma is not the same as grief. When you are grieving, you feel better talking about it and the symptoms resolve over time. In the case of trauma, the opposite happens – the more you talk about it, the worse you feel and the symptoms worsen over time.

If you think you may be experiencing post-traumatic symptoms, I can help rebuild your sense of safety and trust. Contact me today.

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