When you experience a traumatic event it’s common to want to put it behind you and get on with your life. As time passes it’s easy to assume you’re no longer impacted by the event.
However, symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder may appear months or even years after a traumatic event. Unlike physical wounds such as a broken leg, it’s difficult to identify psychological wounds that have yet to heal. Once you recognize the symptoms you can seek professional help recovering from PTSD.
PTSD impacts men and women of all ages and backgrounds. We define PTSD as a mental health condition that can occur after experiencing or witnessing a traumatic event such as a violent assault or a natural disaster.
If you’re experiencing symptoms of PTSD you’re not alone, roughly 60% of men and 50% of women experience at least one trauma in their lives.
Here at Well Roads Psychology, psychotherapists Philip Glickman, PsyD, and Jamie Karia, LCSW, are dedicated to helping children, adolescents, and adults overcome troublesome thoughts, feelings, beliefs, and behaviors.
Traumatic events can leave you with disturbing thoughts and feelings that last long after the event occurs. If you’re struggling with troublesome thoughts or reminders of a traumatic event, you might be suffering from PTSD. Diagnosis requires evaluation by a licensed professional. If you identify with symptoms discussed in this article, schedule an appointment with one of our providers.
It is normal to feel stressed after experiencing a traumatic event. However, if you’re still having symptoms several months after the event or if symptoms started long after the traumatic event ended, you may have PTSD. Here are some of the most common symptoms to look out for.
Re-experiencing the traumatic event
Symptoms that cause you to re-experience the traumatic event can cause distress and have a major impact on your ability to carry on your normal activities of work, school, and social engagements. These symptoms include:
- Flashbacks: reliving the trauma as if it were happening in the here and now.
- Nightmares: disturbing dreams about the traumatic experience that plays out in various scenarios.
- Intrusive memories: Frightening memories about the experience that invade your normal thinking pattern and are difficult to control.
After a traumatic event, you may experience negative thoughts about yourself or the world around you that cause ongoing fear, guilt, or shame. These thoughts may shape distorted beliefs that alter the way you interact with people and your environment. For example, you may believe people are unsafe and can’t be trusted, and this may cause you to distance or isolate yourself from social situations.
Avoidance is a common way to cope with a traumatic experience. It’s normal to want to avoid things that remind you of the traumatic event. For example, a person who survives a bank robbery may avoid going to banks, and instead do their banking online to avoid the traumatic memories associated with going to a bank.
Avoiding people, places, or activities that trigger distressing thoughts about the traumatic event may bring temporary relief, but it can get in the way of recovering from the trauma and instead intensify your symptoms.
Shortly after experiencing a traumatic event, it’s normal to feel on edge or reactive. During a traumatic event, this “fight or flight” reaction is meant to protect you from harm. You may have PTSD if you continue to experience reactivity symptoms when the danger has long passed. Reactivity symptoms include:
- Startling easily
- Sleep disturbance
- Feeling angry or hostile
- Trouble feeling at ease
- Abrupt changes in heart rate
- Feeling as if something bad is about to happen
It’s normal to experience some of these symptoms in the days or weeks after a traumatic event. You may be diagnosed with PTSD when you continue to experience symptoms that last more than a month and are significant enough to interfere with your daily functioning.
If you’re struggling to recover from a traumatic event, we can help. Schedule a consultation with a Wellness Road Psychology provider. We have locations in Dobbs Ferry and New York City. Call the location nearest you or book your appointment online.