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PTSD Symptoms

PTSD stands for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. It describes a trauma and stress related disorder following exposure to an event which is perceived as traumatic. Although PTSD is classed as a disorder it is worth remembering that PTSD is a normal response to abnormal events.

We are all familiar with the war veteran struggling with civilian life, experiencing flashbacks, using alcohol to cope, as depicted in the movies. What many people are less familiar with is that the majority of the trauma we experience is in civilian life and occurs in our homes.

When we experience something we perceive as traumatic we try to integrate our experience of trauma. When we struggle to integrate and make sense of a trauma we experience trauma symptoms. Trauma symptoms might last for up to a month. If you are still experiencing symptoms one month after a traumatic event you might be experiencing Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Symptoms (PTSD). We can experience PTSD symptoms when we struggle to integrate a trauma into our lives. PTSD covers a wide array of symptoms which can be unique to an individual. Diagnostic criteria for PTSD are seperated into intrusion, avoidance, negative alterations in cognitions and moods and hyperarousal.

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Intrusion Symptoms

Intrusion symptoms could include: recurrent memories or dreams related to the traumatic incident, feeling as if the incident is reoccurring in the present moment, dissociating away from the current moment or experiencing flashbacks, experiencing psychological distress or physiological reactions when you are reminded of the traumatic event.

Persistant Avoidence

One strategy to overcome PTSD symptoms is avoidence. You migh try to avoid thoughts, feelings and physical symptoms which trigger memories of the traumatic event, avoid external reminders of the traumatic event which can include: people, places and activities.

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Negative Alterations In Cognitions & Moods

You might experience changes in your way of thinking and how you feel. PTSD symptoms can include difficulty remembering important aspects of the traumatic event, self blame, blaming others for what happened, persistent and negative beliefs or thoughts about yourself, other people or the world in general. You might experience negative emotions of anger, guilt or shame, feel dettached from the world, loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities or problems experiencing positive emotions. For example love or happiness.

Alterations In Arousal & Reactivity

You might experince changes in arousal following a trauma. You might experience hypoarousal: feeling very dettached, depressed and isolated even when you are with people. You might feel hyperaroused: getting very aggressive quickly, feeling impulsive, engaging in self-destructive or reckless behaviour. You might also feel easily startled, feel constantly on guard or have difficulty concentrating or sleeping?

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Questions To Ask If You Think You Might Have PTSD?


How long have your symptoms lasted for? If they have lasted for over a month it might be time to consider getting some professional help.

Has My Behaviour Changed?

Are you isolating yourself to avoid people, places or difficult situation? Do you see everyday situations as a possible threat? Are you using alcohol or drugs more heavily? Are you finding yourself in compromising situations which could lead to more trauma?

Functional Significance

Are your symptoms getting in the way of your work or social life? Is daily life more difficult and are you struggling in your relationships due to emotional control difficulties

Nature Of the Trauma

 Have you had direct exposure to a traumatic event? Have you witnessed a traumatic event?
Have you had repeated indirect exposure to a traumatic event? Was the event life threatening to yourself or to someone else?

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