When someone experiences a highly stressful or emotional situation, we classify it as a traumatic event. Traumatic events can be anything from a car accident, witnessing or being a victim of a crime, or even the death of a loved one or friend. They can also be related to going through a natural disaster, such as a tornado, or even being ill and going to the hospital.
There are many more reasons why someone might see an experience or situation as traumatic. Due to this, we can safely say that at least once in someone's life, they have likely experienced trauma, even if they didn't realize it at the time.
Most people think of PTSD, or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, as something that those in the military experience. However, as you can see above, anyone can have PTSD symptoms due to trauma. But what exactly is PTSD, and how do you know if someone or yourself is experiencing it? Let's go over how to spot the signs and symptoms of PTSD.
Recognizing PTSD Signs & Symptoms
Regardless of the event that occurred, PTSD symptoms are the same. However, this does not mean that everyone will experience the same symptoms. It also does not mean that the signs will be the same. This is why it's important to have a general idea of what PTSD looks like.
It's also important to note that there is no timeline for when symptoms and signs start manifesting or when they will stop. An event could have happened years ago and could still affect someone if left untreated.
Signs of PTSD
Avoidance can range from not talking about the traumatic event to avoiding any place, situation, or person that reminds them of it.
Isolating or withdrawing from friends or family
Develops unhealthy coping mechanisms
Symptoms of PTSD
When someone experiences a traumatic event, they can experience a range of emotional and physical responses.
Intrusive memories: These can include nightmares or reoccurring and troubling memories about the event.
Emotional reactions: Including feeling guilt, shame, irritability, and becoming unusually defensive.
Changes in thinking: This can range from problems concentrating, memory issues, negative thoughts, and feeling worthless or hopeless.
Physical & behavioral reactions: Including changes in sleeping patterns and lack of interest in activities or hobbies.
How To Treat PTSD
As you can guess from the above, experiencing PTSD symptoms can have a massive impact on someone's life. As we mentioned earlier, it doesn't matter how long ago the incident happened. Furthermore, someone can experience PTSD symptoms quickly after the event; alternatively, symptoms may be delayed.
A lot of people will avoid seeking support to help them find relief from their symptoms. Not because they don't want to get better. Mostly, it's due to the belief that no one will understand what they went through. Or that their experience will just be played off or not taken seriously. Trauma is trauma. When it affects you, no matter what happens, it should be taken seriously.
Your past does not define you. The traumatic event may have transformed your life, but that doesn't mean it needs to stay that way. The point of going to therapy for PTSD symptoms is not to make someone completely forget what happened. And it might not ever fully take the pain away, either. However, it can help you find your inner strength again. Treatment helps by relieving the symptoms of PTSD so that it doesn't affect you in your daily life.