PTSD, also known as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, occurs when an overly distressing or traumatic event has happened in your life. Over the past few decades, more information about PTSD has come to the forefront. Unfortunately, it can often take months to successfully diagnose PTSD, and patients may have to wait for months for government-funded psychological help.

PTSD can be triggered by a range of events that the patient has deemed as distressing. Typically, it’s due to a prolonged traumatic experience, however, it can onset after an individual event.

Most frequently, PTSD is a result of abuse (sexual or physical), domestic violence, exposure to traumatic events at work (especially common in first responders), death or grief, childbirth, torture, severe or fatal accidents, serious health concerns, near-death experiences, and war (veterans often report suffering from PTSD).

PTSD is so common in fact that 33% of individuals who have experienced severe trauma will receive a PTSD diagnosis. Although anyone who has experienced trauma can develop PTSD, a history of depression or anxiety can be a major risk factor. There also may be a genetic or biological factor to the diagnosis.

If you think you may be suffering from PTSD, there are 4 clear symptoms and side-effects that a doctor will look at before offering a diagnosis.

  1. Flashbacks A frequent theme of PTSD sufferers is recurrent, life-like flashbacks of the traumatic event that occurred. Flashbacks can often lead to extreme anxiety. Flashbacks are most frequently caused by emotional triggers, and the sufferer may feel like the event is currently happening.
  2. Avoidance PTSD patients are quick to avoid discussing the event they experienced or the flashbacks. It’s a common coping mechanism, and the patient may intentionally or subconsciously avoid any emotional triggers or places that remind them of the event.
  3. Detachment After experiencing a traumatic event, the PTSD sufferer may detach themselves from other people, activities, or experiences in life. Detachment is an often unhealthy coping mechanism, and the patient may begin to isolate or alienate themselves.
  4. Memory Loss The brain copes with traumatic events by blocking them from the memory. Some individuals who have experienced a traumatic episode may not remember what happened before, during, or after the event. Memories may resurface overtime, or they may stay blocked permanently. The body may still respond subconsciously to reminders of the event even though the patient cannot outwardly recall it.

If you think that you are suffering from PTSD, or if you know someone that is, there are resources out there. Mental health hotlines, psychologists, and your family doctor can provide support or healthy coping mechanisms. There are also support groups that are available to those suffering from PTSD.

The best thing to do is to acknowledge the trauma, work to identify the triggers, and identify your response to the emotions that it causes. Working through PTSD can be a lifelong process, but it can be done with the proper resources and tools.

By Celina Dawdy