Most people are familiar with post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, as a mental health condition experienced by soldiers who have experienced combat, or by first responders following experiences in the line of duty.
But PTSD affects more people than our armed forces and first responders. Anyone who has suffered a tragic event may struggle with symptoms of PTSD, including people who have been victims of sexual assault, child abuse, domestic violence or sudden death of a loved one.
You do not even have to experience the traumatic event directly. It may be enough to have a close friend or loved one who experienced an event.
Here is a list of possible indicators that you may be experiencing PTSD after a traumatic event. You do not need to be experiencing all of them to have PTSD.
Being stuck – unable to stop thinking about the event or what you could have done differently, or getting stuck in emotions related to the event.
Images – Nightmares, flashbacks to what happened, or reliving the event.
Shame or blame – Strong feelings of personal guilt, or feelings of anger toward others.
Loss of trust – loss of trust in yourself and your own judgment, or loss of trust in others.
Feeling on edge – feelings of hypervigilance, being on edge, jumpy, irritable or quick to anger.
Avoidance – Avoiding places, people or activities associated with the trauma.
Disconnected – feeling disconnected from yourself or others.
If you have been experiencing any of the above for more than a month following a stressful or upsetting event, consider reaching out to your doctor or a mental health professional.
There are a number of effective treatments for PTSD including Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT). In CBT, people experiencing symptoms like the ones above can learn effective skills for helping them understand and overcome their symptoms.
Don’t wait to start finding help if you are experiencing mental health issues that are interfering with how you live your life. PTSD is a treatable concern, and you can feel better.
Anyone who has suffered a tragic event may struggle with symptoms of PTSD.