The type of events that can cause PTSD include:
serious road accidents
natural disasters, such as severe floods, earthquakes or tsunamis
being held hostage
witnessing violent deaths
violent personal assaults, such as sexual assault, mugging or robbery
PTSD can develop immediately after someone experiences a disturbing event or it can occur weeks, months or even years later. It can develop in any situation where a person feels extreme fear, horror or helplessness. However, it doesn’t usually develop after situations that are simply upsetting, such as divorce, job loss or failing exams.
Signs & Symptoms of PTSD
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can be difficult to diagnose because people who experience traumatic events often don’t want to talk about their feelings. Also, people with PTSD may not seek treatment for many months or years after their symptoms appear.
The symptoms of PTSD usually develop during the first month after a person witnesses a traumatic event. However, in a minority of cases (less than 15%), there may be a delay of months or even years before symptoms start to appear. Some people experience long periods when their symptoms are less noticeable. This is known as symptom remission. These periods are often followed by an increase in symptoms. Other people with PTSD have severe symptoms that are constant.
Someone with PTSD will often relive the traumatic event through nightmares and flashbacks, and they may experience feelings of isolation, irritability and guilt. They may also have problems sleeping, such as insomnia, and find concentrating difficult. These symptoms are often severe and persistent enough to have a significant impact on the person’s day-to-day life
Up to 30% of people who witness a traumatic event then go on to experience some of the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). These symptoms can vary widely between individuals.
Re-experiencing- Re-experiencing is the most typical symptom of PTSD: A person will involuntarily and vividly relive the traumatic event in the form of flashbacks, nightmares or repetitive and distressing images or sensations. Being reminded of the traumatic event can evoke distressing memories and cause considerable anguish.
Avoidance: Trying to avoid being reminded of the traumatic event is another key symptom of PTSD. Reminders can take the form of people, situations or circumstances that resemble or are associated with the event. Many people with PTSD will try to push memories of the event out of their mind. They do not like thinking or talking about the event in detail. Some people repeatedly ask themselves questions that prevent them from coming to terms with the event. For example, they may wonder why the event happened to them and whether it could have been prevented.
Hyperarousal (feeling ‘on edge’): Someone with PTSD may be very anxious and find it difficult to relax. They may be constantly aware of threats and easily startled. This state of mind is known as hyperarousal. Irritability, angry outbursts, sleeping problems and difficulty concentrating are also common.
Emotional numbing: Some people with PTSD deal with their feelings by trying not to feel anything at all. This is known as emotional numbing. They may feel detached or isolated from others, or guilty. Someone with PTSD can often seem deep in thought and withdrawn. They may also give up pursuing the activities that they used to enjoy.
Other possible signs & symptoms of PTSD include:
depression, anxiety and phobias
drug misuse or alcohol misuse
sweating, shaking, headaches, dizziness, chest pains and stomach upsets
having vivid memories, flashbacks or nightmares about the event
trying to avoid things that remind you of the event
sometimes feeling emotionally numb
often feeling irritable and anxious for no apparent reason
eating more than usual, or drinking alcohol or using drugs more than usual
an inability to control your mood
finding it increasingly difficult to get on with others
having to keep yourself very busy to cope
feeling depressed or exhausted
PTSD sometimes leads to the breakdown of relationships and causes work-related problems.
PTSD can be successfully treated, even when it develops many years after a traumatic event.
Any treatment depends on the severity of symptoms and how soon they occur after the traumatic event. The following treatment options may be recommended:
watchful waiting: waiting to see whether the symptoms improve or get worse without treatment
psychological treatment: such as trauma-focused cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) or eye movement desensitisation and reprocessing (EDMR)
medication: such as paroxetine or mirtazapine
***For the record my husband has not been officially diagnosed with PTSD but with the many signs and symptoms he is showing (in bold italics) along with an abusive past, we (him,our initial counsellor and myself) feel that this what he is going through and the route we are exploring with deeper therapy at this time***
I have discovered there is also a link between PTSD and addiction – drink/drugs/gambling/porn etc, 2 of which are relevant to my husband.
- What is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, anyway? (hollykaufman.com)
- How Trauma Leads to Depression (everydayhealth.com)
- PTSD and Suicide Risk (everydayhealth.com)
- Help for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (everydayhealth.com)
- Post-traumatic Stress Syndrome and Rape Trauma Syndrome: the Symptoms (asurvivorsworld.wordpress.com)
- Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) At A Glance (paulamorical.com)
- PTSD: Post traumatic stress disorder. (blogactwell.com)