One in 10 people will experience post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in their lifetime. Nearly 70% struggle with moderate to severe symptoms that have a dramatic impact on their ability to get through daily life.
At Insight Psychiatric Services, Kevin Joseph, DNP, PMHNP-BC, has helped many people overcome PTSD. Through in-person and telemedicine appointments, he offers personalized treatment that eases symptoms, overcomes lingering emotions, and guides you through the trauma, releasing its grip on your mental and emotional well-being.
Your answers to the following seven questions will shed light on whether you may have PTSD.
Most people with PTSD can point to a specific traumatic event, knowing that it triggered their symptoms. But you can also develop PTSD if a close friend or loved one experiences trauma.
The events that commonly cause PTSD include:
A traumatic event can also be less obvious than those in this list. For example, you may suffer a demeaning or shameful experience at the hands of someone who was purposefully cruel.
If you didn’t experience a traumatic event, you could still have PTSD if you live through months or years of relentless stress. You may live with someone who is emotionally abusive, or a person in your household may have a mental health disorder that causes sudden angry or violent outbursts.
You can also have PTSD if you live in a high-crime neighborhood, even if you’ve never been directly affected by the violence.
These situations (and others) have a mental and emotional impact that causes PTSD.
It’s normal to have symptoms like anxiety, fear, and depression after a traumatic event. Most people find that these symptoms gradually improve in the weeks following the event.
PTSD is only diagnosed if you have intense symptoms lasting a month or longer after the triggering event.
The next four questions highlight the symptoms shared by people with PTSD.
Anxiety may seem to be constant or at least a frequent problem in your life. You may also feel guilty or shameful that you didn’t prevent the traumatic event, even when there’s nothing you could have done. Many people with PTSD experience mood changes and depression.
Nightmares and flashbacks are hallmark symptoms of PTSD. Nightmares disrupt your sleep and contribute to daytime symptoms, often making them progressively worse.
Flashbacks occur suddenly and unexpectedly, making you experience the traumatic event again and causing intense feelings of anxiety, fear, and anger. You probably won’t realize it at the time, but flashbacks are typically triggered by a sight, smell, or sound connected with the trauma.
Your brain sends most sensory details surrounding the trauma into your subconscious, so you’re not aware of them. But encountering a detail in your daily life pulls the sensation back into your consciousness and causes the flashback.
People with PTSD have arousal and reactivity symptoms, which means feeling on edge and jumpy. You may find that you overreact to everyday sounds and activities, like a sudden loud noise.
Arousal symptoms also include having difficulty sleeping, feeling irritable, and having anger outbursts that are out of character for you.
The ongoing anxiety that PTSD causes is so strong that you purposefully avoid the people, activities, and places that remind you of the trauma. Your need to protect your emotional stability may be so strong that you avoid responsibilities like going to work.
Don’t wait to seek treatment if you suspect you have PTSD. We offer short-term therapy and prescribe medications that guide you through your symptoms and give you the ability to return to an active life unhindered by anxiety and fear.