Imagine yourself making healthy choices that strengthen you in the face of adversity.
TRAUMATIC EVENTS AFFECT EVERYONE, but persistent symptoms for weeks and months could be indicative of PTSD. Fear is a normal and even beneficial part of life. In times of danger, fear triggers the body’s fight-or-flight response, alerting us to stay on guard. However, a person struggling with PTSD experiences a reaction whether danger is real or perceived.
PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) is most often associated with war veterans, but anyone is susceptible after a traumatic event. Nearly 3.5% of Americans suffer from PTSD after such events, which might include physical abuse, a car accident, natural disasters, sexual assault, or any other traumatic situation.
EVALUATE YOUR STRESS MANAGEMENT STRATEGIES
Physical, emotional, and mental symptoms are natural after a trauma. However, if they persist after several weeks or months, it’s important to check in with your doctor or a mental health professional. An official PTSD diagnosis might be warranted. Symptoms include three major categories:
- Re-experiencing – Often triggered by words, thoughts, or situations.
- Flashbacks or reliving the trauma
- Scary thoughts, nightmares
- Avoidance – Switching up a routine to prevent re-experiencing thoughts.
- Avoiding places that remind you of the event
- Feeling guilty, depressed, or emotionally numb
- Losing interest in enjoyable activities
- Hyperarousal – Experiencing heightened emotions.
- Difficulty sleeping
- Angry outbursts
- Easily startled or tensed
Substance abuse, depression, and anxiety disorders can also accompany PTSD.
If you’re experiencing suicidal thoughts, ask for help or call a suicide hotline immediately. In the U.S., call 1-800-273-8255 or Click here to chat with someone at the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.
RISKS AND TREATMENT
PTSD is more likely to affect those with a family history of mental illness, no social support network, or a history of childhood trauma. Your brain’s chemical response to stress is also a contributor. You can reduce your PTSD risk with healthy coping strategies, such as leaning on family or friends, attending a support group, and eliminating self-blame.