Symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

(It is not necessary to have all symptoms to indicate PTSD)

After a serious trauma (in childhood or as an adult) hidden symptoms of Post-traumatic Stress can plague victims for years. Many sufferers can’t discuss these life-changing symptoms unless offered a safe environment in which to discuss them.

  • Re-experiencing the trauma, flashbacks as though it was happening all over again;
  • Increased anxiety and low frustration tolerance;
  • Intrusive disturbing thoughts of the trauma;
  • Nightmares or other sleep disturbances;
  • Emotional distress when reminded of the trauma;
  • Intense physical reactions to reminders of the event (e.g. pounding heart, rapid breathing, nausea, muscle tension, sweating)
  • Avoiding activities, or places that remind one of the trauma;
  • Inability to remember important aspects of the trauma;
  • Loss of interest in activities and life in general, feeling detached from others and emotionally numb;
  • Sense of a limited future, depression, hopelessness;
  • Irritability or outbursts of anger;
  • Difficulty concentrating, hyper-vigilance;
  • Feeling jumpy or easily startled;
  • Anger, irritability, guilt, shame, or self-blame, survivor guilt;
  • Substance abuse;
  • Feelings of mistrust and betrayal;
  • Suicidal thoughts;
  • Feeling alienated and alone;
  • Physical aches and pains.

Traumatic events that can lead to PTSD

Serious accident, war, childhood abuse/neglect, natural disaster, sudden death of a loved one, rape, assault, kidnapping, sexual abuse, terrifying emotional abuse, witnessing a violent incident, or any shattering event that leaves you feeling trapped, helpless and hopeless.

Things you can do for someone you care about with PTSD

  • Compliment their courage.
  • Be respectful of anniversaries of incidences, losses, etc.
  • Don’t take their anger personally. Anger is always a protective emotion for some underlying fear.
  • Listen respectfully to redundant stories. It’s one of the most precious gifts you can give.
  • Be kind. Don’t try to “educate” them about why they should feel differently or that their feelings are out of proportion to any current circumstances. Never say, “You should be over it”.
  • Remember, you may be oblivious to triggers that set off their flashbacks or painful memories. You did not survive the details of their trauma and the accompanying surrounding stimuli.
  • Never miss the opportunity to keep your mouth closed when you are tempted to judge.
  • Always create the opportunity to tell your loved one how lucky you feel to have them in your life.
  • Offer to participate in life-style changes, like healthy eating and exercise with them.

Books for you to read about PTSD

Shock Waves: A Practical Guide to Living with a Loved One’s PTSD, by Orange

When Someone You Love Suffers from Posttraumatic Stress: What to Expect and What You Can Do, by Zayfert, DeViva

The Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Relationship: How to Support Your Partner and Keep Your Relationship Healthy…by  England

Supporting Children with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder: A Practical Guide for Teachers and Professionals, by Kinchin and Brown

When Someone You Love is Depressed: How to Help Your Loved One Without Losing Yourself, by Epstein Rosen and Francisco

How You Can Survive When They’re Depressed: Living and Coping with Depression Fallout, by Sheffield, Wallace, Klein

I Am Not Sick, I Don’t Need Help! How to Help Someone with Mental Illness Accept Treatment, by Amador

When Someone You Love Has a Mental Illness, by Woolis

Healing Together: A Couple’s Guide to Coping with Trauma and Post-traumatic Stress, by Phillips, Kane