You know that you've lived through a horrible experience. You survived and you know that it's over. But it may be hard to understand why you continue to have physical or emotional reactions to reminders of what happened, or why it's so difficult to keep disturbing memories from intruding into your thoughts. Living with PTSD makes you feel like the traumatic event continues on.
Nightmares, flashbacks, feeling on edge, being easily startled, and avoiding people, places or activities that remind you of the trauma- these are all common features of PTSD that can interfere with living your daily life, your work and your relationships.
What Is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder(PTSD)?
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is a reaction to a traumatic event(or events), and develops in some people who have been through a life threatening, frightening, or shocking experience. PTSD can develop in the months following the event, or even many years later.
Many types of events can lead to PTSD including:
- Childhood abuse, including physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse
- Rape or sexual assault
- Physical assault
- Being bullied
- Being subjected to racism/bigotry
- Being diagnosed with a with a life-threatening illness
- Accidents (car, plane, etc.)
- Living through natural disaster (fires, earthquakes, floods)
- Witnessing or learning of a traumatic event involving a loved one or even a stranger
Symptoms of PTSD
People with PTSD will experience 3 main types of symptoms:
Reliving the trauma
Memories that are intrusive or feel out of control, nightmares, and flashbacks can make it feel like the traumatic event is happening again. These memories are easily brought back by reminders of the event(including sights, sounds, people, specific situations).
People with PTSD will try to avoid thinking about the horrible experience they've been through. This includes avoiding people, places, books, movies-anything that they might associate with the trauma. It's common to feel numb or disconnected from other people, and to even feel that no one understands what you're going through.
PTSD shows up in the body. Troubled sleep, feeling on guard or tense, difficulty concentrating, and feeling irritable or easily angered, gastrointestinal distress are all typical physical responses to trauma.
When To Get Help for PTSD
For people who've experienced trauma and develop PTSD, anxiety becomes overwhelming, making it difficult to stop thinking about the event(s). PTSD can also lead to other problems such as depression, anxiety, drug and alcohol abuse, and phobias. The symptoms of PTSD can be mild or severe, and commonly interfere with how you go about daily life, your ability to go to work/fulfill work obligations, and impacts your relationships.