After some time has passed following a traumatic event, it is natural to assume your mind and body have healed. But, unfortunately, the reality can be much different. Symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder can show themselves months, even years after the event itself.
Our bodies and minds have a way of trying to protect ourselves by pushing traumatic events deep inside our brains. But, as with any problem, eventually, it too shows its face in a variety of ways.
It can be hard to identify PTSD for what it is. On the surface, it can look a lot like depression or anxiety. It can impact the way we sleep, our relationships, jobs, and the ability to perform basic everyday functions.
How do you know if it is PTSD? When should you seek treatment?
1.)You are having flashbacks or Intrusive memories of your trauma. Flashbacks and memories can appear as dreams or can occur during the day. Many times they are caused by a particular trigger that may be difficult for even you to identify. Flashbacks can be so vivid that they cause you to relive the event as if it is happening for the first time. This can cause you to feel anxious, ill, afraid, guilty, suspicious, etc. They can show up as a headache, stomachache, heart palpitations, panic attack, and more.
2.)You are practicing avoidance. You don’t want to talk about the event. You don’t want to be around anything that reminds you of the event. You are trying to avoid thinking about things or facing your new reality. You are just trying to get by. It feels too difficult to address things. You might think this is helping you. But, really it is just pushing things deeper and deeper within causing them to show up in more physical symptoms or later down the road. Avoidance can also mean total seclusion. Maybe you don’t feel yourself anymore or you don’t know how to live your normal life so you avoid doing it altogether. You feel detached. Alone.
3.) You are having mood swings and/or experiencing behavior changes. PTSD does not always come with flashbacks, many times it can lead to mood swings that are triggered by something unrelated. You might feel overcome with anger over things that don’t warrant that kind of reaction. You might feel numb, hopeless, or bad about yourself or others. You might be overcome with shame or guilt. You might have thoughts of suicide that come and go. You might have a hard time focusing or have trouble sleeping.
If you are experiencing PTSD you might not find joy in the activities or hobbies you used to love anymore. You might not be motivated to maintain relationships with family or friends. You might prefer to be all by yourself.
PTSD does not have to ruin your life. It doesn’t have to break you. With the right help, care, and recognition that you are suffering, you can find a way to move forward and heal. If you are unsure if you are suffering from PTSD but are experiencing any of the above symptoms it could be beneficial to seek the help of a licensed mental health professional. A professional can help you learn coping mechanisms and healthy ways to move forward.
You can find yourself again. You can find happiness and feel secure, again. There is hope for the future.
The psychologists at Wellness Psychological Services are uniquely and expertly specialized in helping you cope with trauma and the symptoms of PTSD. We welcome the chance to discuss an individualized plan to meet your needs. Contact us for an appointment anytime.