Main Signs and Symptoms of Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Main Signs and Symptoms of Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental health issue that you might develop after experiencing or witnessing a traumatic event. This could be a life-threatening event such as war, natural disaster or car accident. You can also develop PTSD after a loss like the sudden death of a loved one.

It’s normal for you to feel scared during and after a traumatic event. This fear triggers a “fight-or-flight” response, which is your body’s way of protecting itself from harm. This response causes your body to release hormones, makes you more alert, and increases your blood pressure, heart rate, and breathing.

Most people, including you, might recover from these feelings over time. But if you have PTSD, you might continue to feel distressed long after the trauma has ended. Sometimes, your PTSD symptoms might start later, and they might come and go over time.

What Causes PTSD?

You can develop PTSD after going through something very upsetting. This can also happen if you see or hear about something traumatic. PTSD can happen after experiencing, seeing, or hearing about single, repeated, or multiple events like:

  • Serious accidents
  • Physical and sexual assault or abuse, including childhood or domestic abuse
  • Emotional abuse
  • Racism-related trauma
  • Trauma from work, such as being in the military, emergency services, or humanitarian jobs
  • Trauma from serious health problems or childbirth
  • War and conflict
  • Torture

Other things can also cause PTSD. The important part is how the event affects you personally. Traumatic events can make us question if life is fair, safe, and secure. Not everyone who experiences trauma will get PTSD. The chance of developing PTSD is higher if the traumatic event:

  • Is unexpected
  • Lasts a long time
  • Makes you feel trapped
  • Is caused by other people
  • Causes many deaths
  • Makes you feel your life is in danger
  • Causes serious injury
  • Involves children

If you have experienced depression or anxiety before, you are more likely to develop PTSD.

Symptoms of Post-traumatic Stress Disorder

1. Intrusive Thoughts

Intrusive thoughts are very common symptoms of PTSD after trauma. These are unwanted and often sudden thoughts about the traumatic event that seem stuck in your mind, causing you stress. These thoughts are automatic and often irrational, in response to fear or emotionally disturbing images of past events. If you have intrusive memories of the event, you are not alone—many people with PTSD experience this at some point.

2. Nightmares

For most people, nightmares might be a common part of PTSD. These dreams can change depending on what kind of trauma you went through. When you have PTSD and nightmares, you’re more likely to have suicidal thoughts or attempts. This is why finding ways to treat PTSD-related nightmares is so important.

When you wake up from these nightmares, you might feel anxious and fearful, making it difficult to go back to sleep. Nightmares can also make you afraid to go to bed, stay up late, or keep the lights on, leading to insomnia and problems with concentration the next day.

While there’s no specific treatment for PTSD nightmares yet, some things can help you sleep better:

  • Keep a regular evening routine
  • Exercise regularly
  • Avoid too much caffeine and alcohol
  • Don’t smoke
  • Try relaxation techniques like progressive muscle relaxation
  • Talk about your nightmares or write them down in a journal

By doing these things, you might find some relief from your PTSD-related nightmares and improve your sleep.

3. Avoidance of Reminders

Avoidance is a main symptom of PTSD. You might find yourself avoiding things that could trigger your symptoms, such as:

  • People
  • Places
  • Activities
  • Objects

You might also avoid thinking about or remembering the event. You might not want to talk about it or share your feelings. To keep these thoughts and memories away, you might distract yourself with hobbies or work.

4. Memory loss

If you have PTSD, you might find yourself struggling with memory loss, especially when it comes to recalling details of the traumatic event. You might have more trouble remembering specific past events compared to people without PTSD. This memory loss could be due to having a smaller hippocampus, which is the part of your brain that is essential for the creation of new memories. If you have PTSD, your hippocampus might be smaller than that of someone without the condition, potentially contributing to your anxiety, fear, flashbacks, and memory loss.

5. Negative thoughts

If you had a traumatic experience, you might notice you have more negative thoughts about yourself and others than before. This is common for people who’ve gone through trauma, and it can make other symptoms worse. Many people with PTSD experience these negative thoughts, and even some trauma survivors without PTSD have them too. These thoughts often include feeling guilt or shame about what happened or thinking the world is a dangerous place and that people can’t be trusted.

6. Difficulty concentrating

When you have PTSD, you might have difficulty focusing. Lack of sleep can make it even worse. You might find it tricky to pay attention during talks, tasks, or at your job. Trouble concentrating is one of the signs used to diagnose PTSD.

7. Insomnia

If you have PTSD, 90–100% of the time you might have trouble sleeping, such as with insomnia. Insomnia means it’s hard to fall asleep or stay asleep at least three times a week. PTSD can mess up your sleep in different ways. You might avoid sleeping, lose sleep time, move your arms and legs more, talk during sleep, feel alert or on edge, struggle to relax, or find it hard to deal with silence.

8. Flashbacks

One of the main symptoms of PTSD is going through those difficult experiences again. You feel like reliving them, especially with flashbacks. During these moments, you might sweat a lot and feel your heart racing, almost as if you’re seeing it all over again. Different things can trigger these flashbacks for you, like what you see, hear, or smell.

What Things Might Help Protect You from Developing PTSD?

If you experienced very emotionally intense events, there are some things that can help you not feel overwhelmed by them:

  1. Talk to People You Trust: When you chat with family and friends, it helps you feel less alone and makes the tough things easier to handle.
  2. Get People Who Get You: Having someone who really understands what you’re going through can make a big difference. It helps you feel like your feelings are valid and you’re not alone.
  3. Help Others When You Can: Sometimes, helping someone else out can make you feel better too. It takes your mind off your own problems and reminds you that you can make a positive difference, even when things are tough.
  4. Think of Yourself as a Survivor: Instead of feeling like a victim, think of yourself as someone strong enough to get through rough times. It can give you a boost of confidence and make you feel more in control.
  5. Talk to Someone Who Knows How to Help: It’s okay to ask for help from a professional if you’re struggling. They’re trained to listen and give you strategies to cope with what you’re going through.
  6. Lean on Your Faith or Beliefs: If you have faith or spiritual beliefs, they can give you comfort and strength during hard times. They remind you that there’s something bigger than your troubles and can give you hope.
  7. Remember You Can Handle Your Feelings: Believe in yourself and your ability to deal with your emotions. Learning how to calm down and manage your feelings can make a big difference in how you handle tough situations.
  8. Find Some Good in the Bad: Even though it’s hard, try to see if there’s anything positive that can come out of what you’ve been through. Maybe it’s learning something new about yourself or appreciating the people who support you.

Modern Therapy Can Help You Heal

If you have signs and symptoms of PTSD, then we are here to help you. At Modern Therapy Clinic, we are experts in PTSD therapy and committed to helping you heal. Here’s why you can trust us:

  • Our therapists are highly trained in PTSD therapy. We use proven methods to help you work through and overcome your trauma. We know PTSD can be complex, and we’re here to support you with personalized treatment plans.
  • We offer a wide range of counselling services. Whether you need PTSD counselling in Vancouver or general support, our Vancouver counsellors are here to help you with the tools and strategies you need for recovery.
  • We put you first. We listen to your concerns and work with you to create a treatment plan that fits your goals and needs. Your comfort and progress are our top priorities.
  • We offer flexible scheduling to fit your busy life. Safe and Supportive Environment. We provide a safe, confidential, and non-judgmental space for you to explore your feelings. Our Vancouver trauma therapists are dedicated to making you feel supported and understood.

In addition to traditional therapy, we offer holistic practices to support your overall well-being. This includes mindfulness techniques, stress management, and other complementary therapies to enhance your healing process.

If you or someone you know is struggling with PTSD, don’t wait any longer. Contact Modern Therapy Clinic today to schedule an appointment with one of our dedicated Vancouver counsellors. Let us help you reclaim your life and find the peace you deserve.

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