How do I know if I have PTSD? What are the things I should be looking for? Are there things my loved ones can watch out for?
The APA PTSD clinical symptoms include symptoms of arousal and activity. What does that mean? You are irritable, angry, and aggressive. You are reckless. You take chances. You are always on guard, easily startled, and have difficulty concentrating when you may have been very good at concentrating before the trauma. Suddenly, you cannot focus on one thing at a time. And of course, you have difficulty falling and staying asleep.
Avoidance symptoms often come up with PTSD. You avoid thoughts related to the trauma — reminders of the event. People I have worked with in therapy do not want anything to do with the place where the trauma happened. They refused to go anywhere near that place.
Emotional numbing is another symptom. It includes losing interest in activities that used to be relevant to you. You feel detached or estranged from essential people in your life and feel like you’re unable to have healthy emotions. Often you lose a sense that you have a long-term future. These symptoms diminish your relationships with those closest to you.
PTSD is diagnosed when these symptoms last longer than a month and cause significant distress or impairment in functioning.
Aftereffects of Trauma
There are emotional, mental, and behavioral aftereffects of trauma. These are all things that go on in the brain. They affect your perception and can change the belief system that you had previously set up over time. Here are some of the effects you may experience.
- Emotional Aftereffects of Trauma:
- You feel panicked, fearful, like you are all alone.
- You feel angry and frustrated.
- Your mood swings from almost 1 minute to the next sometimes. You think I can get over this no problem, and the next minute you’re in the depth of despair.
- You feel sad, hopeless, helpless, and numb.
- You sometimes decide to purposely numb your feelings, possibly by drinking too much alcohol.
- You have a lack of confidence.
- Mental Aftereffects:
- Disorientation and confusion, obsessive thoughts, and so forth.
- You have racing thoughts, thoughts about death and dying.
- You are distracted, cannot make decisions, and lose concentration.
- Behavioral Aftereffects:
- You withdraw from people.
- You used to be friendly, and after the trauma, and you feel like shutting yourself in from others.
- You get aggressive.
- You have crying spells often on throughout the day and night.
- You are easily startled.
- You do things on impulse.
- You argue with people you love.
- You sleep a lot more because you want to get away from this feeling.
- You have a change in appetite or increased drug or alcohol use.