There’s a good chance that you have heard about PTSD before. It is most often depicted in the media as something that is experienced by those who served in a war or suffered from domestic or sexual abuse. You wouldn’t be alone, however, if you didn’t have a full understanding of what PTSD is.
Maybe you know some of the symptoms of PTSD, but you don’t quite understand what causes it. Alternatively, maybe you went through something painful and are now having debilitating symptoms that you think could be PTSD. No matter what brings you to this post, we are glad you’re here. The purpose of this post is to talk about PTSD and who it can impact.
What Is PTSD?
PTSD is the acronym for post-traumatic disorder. That can sometimes be a mouthful to say, so most people either say PTSD or refer to this experience as trauma.
Some of the most common reasons someone might experience PTSD symptoms are a result of the following:
- Domestic, sexual, or emotional abuse
- Experiencing war
- Loss of a loved one
- Witnessing a crime
- Being the victim of a crime
- Car accidents
If someone has been exposed to the same type of traumatic experience multiple times, such as in abuse or serving in a war, we refer to that as C-PTSD or complex post-traumatic disorder.
Even though these are the most common causes of PTSD, they are not the only ones. PTSD occurs, after all, as a result of experiencing a highly emotional or distressing event(s). Anyone, for any reason, can experience PTSD symptoms.
Symptoms of PTSD
It’s more complex to describe, but PTSD symptoms often occur because parts of the painful experience have gone unprocessed. During a traumatic experience, the brain tries to protect us by blocking out certain sensations or experiences. It’s useful in the moment, but these unprocessed memories can wreak havoc on a person over time. It can cause symptoms such as:
- Avoidance of any place or event that is similar to where the trauma occurred
- Social isolation
- Night sweats
- Changes in eating habits (eating more or not enough)
- Racing heart
- Feeling tense or on edge
- Difficulty concentrating
- Memory problems
- Engaging in risky behaviors
- Development of unhealthy coping mechanisms, such as turning to drugs or alcohol.
It should be noted that not every single person will experience the aftermath of trauma in the same way. However, as you can imagine, experiencing PTSD can have a detrimental impact on a person’s life. They may struggle with work, household responsibilities, feeling safe in public, or connecting with others meaningfully.
Healing From Trauma Is Possible
Those are the very basics of trauma. Now, if you are reading this and realize these are similar to your symptoms, we are glad you are here. The first step to healing from trauma is acknowledging, in some way, that you went through something horrific that has impacted you greatly.
One of the next steps is to recognize that whatever happened was not your fault. Trauma survivors often place blame on themselves. They’ll ask questions like, “What could I have done differently to prevent it from happening? Maybe if I had just…”
While we all have regrets about things we have done in our lifetime, something that happened to you was not your fault. Give yourself some grace to understand this.
Above, we mentioned that another type of PTSD exists, called C-PTSD. However, make no mistake that trauma, in itself, is complex. Many people struggle to overcome something traumatic on their own because of the many ways that it can impact a person’s mind and body.