How to recognize the distinct markers of PTSD and whether you or a loved one need to seek treatment.
Review These Signs.
by Linda K. Laffey, MFT
Recognizing the fear, defenses, and pain that keep you from moving on.
Essentially, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a broken “fight or flight” response. The danger passes, but the alarm persists. A third way this shows up is in a "freeze" response.
PTSD has the potential to hold a sufferer hostage, perpetually stuck in the memory of the worst pain, fear, or crisis of his or her life. It interferes with everyday life, fuels negative emotions, and interrupts relationships. No matter how he or she struggles, the trauma reappears in his or her mind. Are you struggling with traumatic memories? Nightmares? Flashbacks? Do you suspect a loved one might be wrestling with such disturbances? In order to finally conquer the hold the past has on your current life and future happiness, you’ll first need to know the symptoms of PTSD. Consider the following markers:
Do you or your loved one relive the pain and fear again and again? Do you feel powerless to stop recalling the trauma?
Whether you rehash the stressful events like an unwanted movie playing in your mind, suffer nightmares, or find yourself responding unexpectedly to sights, sounds, or odors that trigger memories, unwanted flashbacks and reactions are common fallout of PTSD.
Does the whole world seem dangerous and untrustworthy? Do you feel like you must always be ready to fight, constantly on the defensive, look over your shoulder or be prepared to run?
PTSD often wreaks havoc on your nerves. You may have developed insomnia. You might be jumpy or startle easily. Panic attacks, bouts with sudden irritability, and a persistent “on edge” feeling are common as well. If being caught off guard feels intolerable, you may be suffering from PTSD.
Are you or a loved one willing to alter routines or lifestyle choices to stave off traumatic memories or reminders? You may find yourself avoiding once-pleasurable activities or necessary daily habits to prevent disturbing triggers.
Do you hate being referred to as a veteran or victim? PTSD sufferers may also tamp down feelings associated with their trauma by shutting down emotionally or resisting anything or any conversation connected to the upsetting events.
Consider treatment for PTSD, too, if your avoidance is so strong that you can no longer recall the trauma or you are generally mired in guilt, depression, or anxiety.
Are personal relationships no longer a source of comfort? Are your friends and family struggling to relate to you? PTSD may have altered the way you see people and the way you behave around them.
Positive, warm feelings may have given way to suspicion and resentment. Your trauma may make trust extremely difficult; withdrawal may seem tempting. You and your loved ones may require help from a therapist who can help you manage the PTSD and strained family dynamics. A Certified EMDR Therapist can help you move beyond managing the PTSD to resolving it completely. You can have your life and your relationships back.
Is your body stressed by your attempts to remember or keep from remembering traumatic events?
Many PTSD sufferers experience pain that is emotionally induced rather than directly connected to the trauma. Headaches and digestive trouble may result from the stress. Muscle aches and cramping may develop from constant tension.
Untreated, PTSD interrupts and erodes your peace of mind, your health, and your relationships. Ignoring PTSD only serves to worsen the condition and do more damage. Understand, what you are experiencing is not a weakness or character defect. This is a condition caused by trauma, and it is treatable.
If you suspect that you or someone you know is struggling with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, now is the time to seek help. Trauma therapy effectively assists trauma survivors to heal and resolve the most painful chapters in their lives.
Confront PTSD early and intentionally, with the aid of a qualified somatic therapist. I have been a Certified EMDR Therapist since 2004, with advanced training in the integration of EMDR with Somatic Experiencing. With my help, you can regain the emotional control and relational support necessary to make life wonderful again.
I look forward to hearing from you.
Linda K. Laffey, MFT
This article was originally published at Linda K. Laffey, MFT. Reprinted with permission from the author.