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Recognizing the Signs of PTSD

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When tough situations arise, it’s not uncommon to feel stress, anxiety or depression. Likewise, it’s common to feel disrupted in your ability to cope with the feelings triggered by the event or in your ability to continue functioning normally in everyday life. However, when a traumatic event causes intrusive symptoms that last for more than three months and impact your ability to maintain functional relationships at home and work, then you may be living with the effects of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and treatment may be able to help you get your life back on track.

According to the US Department of Veteran Affairs, there are four different types of PTSD symptoms:

  • Reliving the trauma
  • Avoidance of anything reminiscent of the traumatic event
  • Negative changes in perspective
  • Heightened levels of awareness

Any of these conditions can benefit from comprehensive treatment and psychotherapeutic care. Contact us today at The Canyon for more information about how we can help.

Reliving the Trauma

This type of PTSD is defined by vivid memories of the traumatic experience that come unbidden, evoking the same gripping, often terrifying, emotions as the original event. For many, these memories are so real that it is like they are reliving the trauma every time they occur. Symptoms include:

  • Intense nightmares
  • Flashbacks
  • Experiencing triggers (e.g., sights, sounds or smells that cause the memories to occur)

Avoidance

Some people who struggle with PTSD may or may not experience vivid memories or relive the event but they will go to great lengths to avoid anything that reminds them of the trauma. This can mean avoiding certain parts of town, certain activities or specific people – anything that makes them think about the traumatic event or makes them feel unsafe.

For example, those who were in car accidents may avoid driving or riding in cars. Those who experienced domestic violence may avoid dating. Additionally, if thoughts of the trauma are intrusive, people who live with this type of PTSD may go out of their way to keep busy in order to keep thoughts of the trauma at bay.

Perspective Shift

Another form of PTSD symptoms comes in the form of a perspective shift toward negative beliefs and feelings. Patients may no longer trust themselves or others, or they may wish to avoid engaging in close relationships of any kind. They may even want to avoid interacting with others on any level, feeling unsafe and unprotected. In some cases, patients who struggle with this type of PTSD may block out or be unable to remember the details of the traumatic event and be unable to discuss what happened.

Hyperarousal

High levels of jittery energy characterize hyperarousal, or feeling on edge and alert at all times. Patients who are living with this type of PTSD may be volatile and aggressive with little to no instigation, often assuming that people or situations are in some way threatening. Hyperarousal may cause symptoms including:

  • Insomnia
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Feeling shaken by loud or unexpected noises
  • Avoiding feeling trapped or backed into a corner (e.g., preferring to sit near or in view of the door in public places)

Treating PTSD

Too often, people who struggle with PTSD attempt to self-medicate, trying to ease their symptoms through alcohol and drug use. Unfortunately, this does little to quell the fear, anxiety and volatility that often define PTSD and instead serves to amplify symptoms in most cases. Additionally, many end up living with a chronic substance abuse problem or addiction in addition to PTSD.

If you believe that your loved one may be living with PTSD and a substance abuse problem, we can help you connect him with our integrated treatment program here at The Canyon. Call us today to talk with one of our admissions coordinators about your options in treatment for co-occurring disorders.

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