Post-Traumatic Stress (PTS or PTSD) can be debilitating to those who suffer from it. It can make getting through the day extremely difficult. Not to mention, the symptoms can seep into other areas of your life like work, family, and leisure activities. You may feel like you are suffering alone and there is nothing you can do to change your situation. You may feel like you should “just move on” but feel like you can’t. You might feel disconnected and distant from others, even people you used to really trust, because no one quite understands what you’ve been through. Sound familiar?

If you think you may have post-traumatic stress, or PTSD, review the symptoms below:

Symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Re-Experiencing

Re-experiencing is best described as being reminded of the trauma you experienced, so much so, that it gets in the way of your daily activities.

Not sure if you are experiencing this? Ask yourself, in the last month:

  • Did I experience memories of the situation either out-of-the blue or related to something I heard, saw, or did?
  • Did I experience distressing dreams of the event? Maybe you don’t remember your dreams but you woke up with a lot of distressing symptoms (i.e. heart racing, difficulty breathing, sweating, anxiety)?
  • Did I ever feel like I was back at the time of the event, reliving it?
  • Did I experience overwhelming negative emotions or a physical reaction when something reminded me of the event?
Avoidance

As the word simply suggests, this is when people stop doing the things that they used to enjoy. They may not be doing it on purpose, but feel an overwhelming sense of anxiety when thinking about participating in events. As a result, the world can seem like it is becoming smaller and smaller.

Not sure if you are experiencing this? Ask yourself, in the last month:

  • Did I avoid or push away thoughts related to the event?
  • Did I avoid certain people, places, or situations that remind me of the event?
Changes in Thoughts or Moods

After experiencing a trauma, many people feel different than they did prior to the event. They find themselves looking at situations, the world, and relationships from a different, oftentimes negative, point of view.

Not sure if you are experiencing this? Ask yourself, in the last month:

  • Are there parts of the event that I have difficulty remembering even when I try to?
  • Have I held negative views about myself, other people, or the world such as “I am bad”, “there is something wrong with me”, “no one can be trusted”, or “the world is a dangerous place”?
  • Did I feel an overwhelming sense of self-blame or guilt as it relates to the event?
  • Did I experience overwhelming negative emotions such as fear, horror, anger, guilt, or shame?
  • Was I less interested in things that I used to enjoy but no longer do?
  • Did I feel distant or detached from relationships at home, work, or just in general?
  • Did I have difficulty experiencing positive emotions like love or happiness?
Physical Arousal and Reactivity

People that have experienced a trauma often feel like they are often revved up and physically in a state of “fight-or-flight”.

Not sure if you are experiencing this? Ask yourself, in the last month:

  • Have I been so irritable or angry that it showed in my behavior?
  • Did I engage in reckless or dangerous behavior?
  • Did I feel the need to constantly be alert or on-guard?
  • Have I easily startled at things that most people would not or in a way that was an exaggerated response to the situation?
  • Was it difficult to concentrate?
  • Was it difficult to sleep? (i.e. difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, and/or frequent awakenings throughout the night)?

If you answered YES to one or more of the questions above, you may have PTSD or symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. The good news is that PTSD symptoms are treatable.

Unfortunately, because of pride, stigma of getting treatment, or lack of knowledge, many people go for years without treatment. They think that if they just work hard enough, avoid enough, or stuff it down far enough, PTSD will go away on its own. It won’t.

Take the first steps today to get better with therapy. Many of the people we have provided counseling with often resent the fact that they waited so long to get help, so don’t continue to suffer alone.