Do I Have PTSD? Recognizing the Signs

As the #MeToo movement continues to highlight the prevalence of sexual aggression all over the United States, we often hear people talk about Post-traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD. Traditionally, people think of veterans or mass-violence when they think of PTSD. In fact, PTSD is a psychiatric disorder that can develop in people who’ve experienced or witnessed all kinds traumatic or life-threatening event.

Certainly this includes experiences of childhood sexual abuse, sexual assault or even sexual harassment. Anyone–of any age–that has experienced a violent or sexual assault or been taken advantage of sexually is at risk of developing PTSD. In fact, the traumatic event doesn’t even have to have happened to you. Just hearing about a traumatic event can cause symptoms of PTSD. Therefore, even family members and treatment providers of someone who has experienced a sexual trauma may be at risk. If you’re concerned you or a loved one may be suffering from PTSD, here are some signs to look out for.

Reliving the Event

Someone with PTSD will have involuntary re-experiences of the trauma through nightmares, flashbacks, triggers, and unwanted thoughts or memories. Sounds or smells may take them back to the traumatic experience. Additionally, they may feel strong feelings in their bodies when they’re reminded of or remember the event.

Symptoms of Arousal and Reactivity

PTSD sufferers will frequently feel on edge, unsafe or be easily startled. They may be prone to anger, agitation, or sadness. It’s also common for victims of PTSD to have trouble sleeping or concentrating, and they may develop changes in their eating habits by either eating too much or too little.

Avoidance Behavior

An individual suffering from PTSD may begin to avoid the area where they experienced the event, or areas that remind them of what happened. They may also avoid people, events or objects that bring negative memories forward. It’s also common for people with PTSD to avoid talking about the situation, or avoiding feelings related to the event.

Negative Thoughts and Feelings

Feelings of shame, self-blame, and exaggerated negative beliefs are common in people with PTSD. They may lose interest in things they once enjoyed, and isolate themselves from friends and loved ones. It’s also not uncommon for people with PTSD to entirely lose trust in people, or to believe that the world is a dangerous place.

After experiencing a traumatic event, it’s natural for someone to have any of the symptoms listed above. However, for people suffering from PTSD, the symptoms persist for weeks, months, or even longer and begin to affect their ability to function. Sometimes, people feel fine for long periods of time after a trauma, then suddenly start having PTSD symptoms. This can even happen years after the trauma and can seem unrelated.

If you’re worried you might be suffering from Posttraumatic Stress Disorder and need the help of a licensed professional, please call our office today and let’s set up an appointment to talk. Our therapists specialize in healing PTSD after sexual trauma. You don’t have to feel broken forever.

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