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Tuesday, June 15, 2021

What Does PTSD Look Like?


You were in a very close call when another car almost ran head-on into yours. You witnessed a disturbing violent act against someone in your family. You experienced abuse as a child. You lived through the fear and uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic. You were in combat as a member of the military. Any of these, and many other traumatic experiences could cause you to have post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). During PTSD Awareness Month, it’s important to understand what PTSD looks like.

PTSD Causes

PTSD is typically associated with the military, but anybody who’s experienced a traumatic event can have the anxiety disorder. A crime, fire, accident, or death of a loved one can be traumatizing. An extended experience such as long-term abuse or even the pandemic can also have a devastating effect which could leave someone with PTSD.

When an event occurs, such as a car accident, the individual may feel upset for a while but often that feeling will get better with time. If the individual becomes more fearful and anxious, and begins displaying symptoms that last longer than a month, they could have PTSD. The disorder affects about 7-8% of the population, with women more likely to be affected than men. Symptoms usually start within three months of the events, but they can surface much later.

What Does PTSD Look Like?

The anxiety disorder can look different for different people. There may be physical symptoms such as shaking, sweating, headaches, dizziness, stomach issues, and chest pain. The individual may also experience a weakened immune system, which could lead to frequent infections. Sleep disturbances can be an issue for some people, which can result in a feeling of being tired as well as other problems.

PTSD may also manifest itself in long-term behavioral changes, which can contribute to issues on the job and with personal relationships. An individual with PTSD may start to use or misuse drugs, medications, and alcohol. Behavioral changes can include becoming sad and hopeless, paranoid, fearful, or angry. An individual may withdraw from social interaction and lose interest in once-favorite activities.

Feeling Stressed or Frightened

When something potentially dangerous happens to a person, their natural sense of “fight or flight” will usually kick in. These split-second changes in the body and the mind help defend against danger or avoid it completely. Once the danger has passed, an individual’s reaction to it can continue to cause issues, in the form of the anxiety disorder PTSD. People who have PTSD continue to feel frightened or stressed, even after they are no longer in danger.

A traumatic event does not have to be life threatening to cause PTSD. An unexpected death of a close loved one can also leave an individual feeling traumatized. The stress of dealing with the isolation and fear of an unfamiliar virus can cause be traumatizing.

Three Main Types of PTSD Symptoms

There are three main types of symptoms associated with PTSD:

  • Re-experiencing. A person may re-experience the trauma through flashbacks, nightmares, and other intrusive recollections of the event. Re-experiencing symptoms can include physical symptoms such as sweating or a racing heart.
  • Emotional numbness and avoidance. The individual may avoid the people, places, and activities that remind them of their traumatic event or experience.
  • Increased arousal. An individual may feel jumpy, have trouble concentrating, or be easily angered or irritated.

Cognition and Mood Symptoms

When an individual has PTSD, they display the symptoms within the three main categories, as well as in the category of Cognition and Mood, for a month or longer. Cognition and mood symptoms can include:

  • Having trouble remembering details of the traumatic event
  • Experiencing distorted feelings such as blame or guilt
  • Negative thoughts about the world or about oneself.
These symptoms can result in the individual feeling alienated or detached from family and friends.

Some people recover from their PTSD within six months, while others take longer. Seeking treatment for the anxiety disorder is always a good idea to help manage the symptoms and process the trauma.

California Faith-Based Addiction Treatment

Celebrate Hope is here for you when you need help with mental health issues, such as the anxiety disorder PTSD, particularly when they co-occur with addiction. Please contact Celebrate Hope to learn more about our faith-based dual diagnosis treatment program. Our team helps men and women address the vicious cycle of mental illness and addiction so they can begin life anew. We rely on the teachings of Jesus Christ, along with evidence-based therapies to get individuals on the path of recovery.

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