You’re suddenly on edge. Inside your mind, a warning light goes off, “Danger!”
Your alarmed reaction may only last a moment. Though, sometimes, the uneasy feelings linger with you for some time.
Could you have Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD?
It is possible that something has triggered you into responding to a traumatic event from your past. But how would you know?
Learn to recognise the following warning signs that you may have PTSD.
10 Warning Signs of PTSD
1. Suddenly feeling you’re in danger
As mentioned above, one symptom of PTSD is an exaggerated startle response. Suddenly, you feel that you are in danger. And it can happen even if there is no obvious or recognisable threat.
That’s because your mind is still “stuck” in the reactionary mode that was trying to keep you safe from something dangerous in your past. Even though the event happened a long time ago, your mind doesn’t realise that and responds as though the danger is still present. It can be very frightening.
2. Feeling “numb”
Another sign of PTSD is feeling emotionally “numb.” You might have trouble feeling any kind of emotion at all. Emotional numbness can be particularly distressing if you know there was a time when certain experiences, such as watching the sunrise, brought you joy. Yet, now, your emotions are almost entirely dead. You often feel nothing at all.
Such emotional numbness often harms close relationships as it can be difficult, if not impossible, to feel love and affection towards the people you care about and are closest to you.
3. Sleep problems
People who have experienced psychological trauma and struggle with PTSD can have severe sleep problems. You may have trouble getting to sleep or staying asleep. Or, you may sleep way too long. Sometimes, when you do sleep, you may have nightmares, especially about things associated with the traumatic event. Or you may not dream at all.
4. Difficulty remembering things
Many people who have experienced psychological trauma or who have PTSD have difficulty remembering things. In particular, you may have trouble remembering the specific details surrounding your trauma. This lack of memory is another way in which your mind is trying to protect you. Unfortunately, that can also indicate that you’re having trouble healing from your trauma.
Psychological trauma can also affect your broader memory, making it challenging to remember day-to-day things too.
5. Relationship issues
If you have PTSD, you may be struggling with relationship issues as well. For example, you may have trouble forming close relationships with other people. In some cases, this can be because, subconsciously, you are trying to protect yourself from further hurt. You might find it hard to trust people or let them in, even when you want to. Plus, the relationships you do have are often hard to maintain.
6. Feeling irritable or angry
Anger and irritability are also common for those with PTDS. Perhaps you have noticed how you snap back at someone when they ask a question? Or, that you lack patience and become irritated by small things. This ‘short-fuse’ happens because part of you remains emotionally stuck in that traumatic moment from the past. As a result, your emotions can be very raw, making it hard for you to gauge your feelings accurately based on the situation at hand.
7. Difficulty staying focused
Because of PTSD, it may be difficult for you to stay focused and present. In turn, this can make it hard for you to hold down a job or focus on school work. Such lack of focus happens because your mind is still grappling with past trauma, making it harder to concentrate on anything else.
8. Feelings of guilt and shame
If you have experienced psychological trauma, it’s highly likely that you’re often wrestling with feelings of guilt and shame. These feelings can become overwhelming at times. For example, let’s say you survived a tragic incident, but someone else did not. You might feel incredibly guilty for having lived while they died. You blame yourself and question what you could have done differently. Yet, this only reinforces your guilt and shame.
9. Using unhelpful coping mechanisms
Unfortunately, people who have PTSD often have substance abuse problems, too. Like so many others, you may be using alcohol, drugs, or both to cope with the overwhelming and disturbing thoughts and emotions. Of course, instead of helping, substance abuse only makes things worse. In the end, you only add more trouble to a complex situation.
10. You don’t want to get help
Perhaps there are those in your life who have pointed out some of the warning signs mentioned above. And maybe they already offered to help you. You, however, turned them down. Why? You might feel ashamed for perhaps having PTSD, or deny that it’s really that bad. It’s a problem that you think you can handle on your own. Maybe you don’t feel what happened was big enough to justify seeking help – other people have survived worse, so you should be able to, too.
So, the patterns of PTSD keep repeating themselves, and you don’t get any better.
Do you think you have PTSD and have been ignoring the warning signs? Reflect for a moment on how trauma symptoms are affecting your life right now.
Wouldn’t you like things to be better?
If your answer is “yes,” then don’t hesitate to accept the help that you need. We would be happy to work with you. Contact us today.