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Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) signs and symptoms

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a debilitating mental health condition that arises as a result of a profoundly traumatic experience, and can seriously impair an individual’s ability to function effectively in their day-to-day life. Some people find that they experience the symptoms of PTSD immediately following the traumatic event, whereas in others, PTSD symptoms can take weeks, months or even years to manifest.

In addition, many people can fall into the trap of attempting to self-medicate with alcohol or drugs, leading to the development of a harmful substance addiction alongside their PTSD. This presents as an even greater obstacle and can cause a whole host of additional problems.

If you think that you or someone that you know may be struggling with PTSD, it is important to recognise that you are not alone and that expert, dedicated treatment is available. Our specialists at Manor Clinic are highly experienced in providing tried and tested PTSD treatment when this condition co-exists alongside a primary addiction diagnosis. We are committed to empowering each and every one of our patients to overcome their PTSD symptoms and addictive behaviours, and return to a healthy and fulfilling life.

What are the signs and symptoms of PTSD?

It is important to recognise that the symptoms of PTSD are subjective; trauma affects people in different ways and not everyone will react to the same event in the same way. However, broadly speaking, the most common symptoms of PTSD tend to fall into three major categories:

  • Re-experiencing symptoms - reminders of the traumatic experience
  • Avoidance symptoms - attempts to avoid people, places, or situations that are associated with the traumatic event
  • Hyperarousal symptoms - excessive alertness or awareness of your surroundings

Examples of each category of symptoms include:

Re-experiencing symptoms:

  • Vivid flashbacks of the distressing event, which cause you to feel as though you are reliving the traumatic experience
  • Vivid nightmares or intense, disturbing dreams
  • Involuntary, intrusive or distressing memories of the trauma
  • Significant physiological responses during flashbacks, including difficulty breathing, dizziness, chest pains, rapid heart rate and sweating

Avoidance symptoms:

  • Attempting to avoid thinking about the traumatic event, or the feelings and memories that are associated with it
  • Intentionally staying away from people, places, situations or conversations that remind you of the traumatic event
  • Difficulty remembering details about the traumatic experience
  • Feeling detached from life or hopeless about the future
  • Feeling emotionally numb
  • Inability to feel pleasure or other positive emotions

Hyperarousal symptoms:

  • Hypervigilance (excessive alertness to your environment)
  • Hyperacusis (being overly sensitive to loud noises)
  • Exaggerated startle response
  • Jumpiness
  • Engaging in risky, reckless or self-destructive behaviours
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Irritability
  • Angry outbursts
  • Tearfulness
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Experiencing panic attacks

In addition to the above, other symptoms of PTSD can include:

  • Experiencing difficult emotions such as grief, anxiety and depression
  • Difficulties with focus and concentration
  • Experiencing a lack of trust in other people
  • Poor performance/attendance at work
  • Withdrawing from loved ones
  • Injury as a result of engaging in reckless behaviours
  • Appetite changes, leading to weight loss or gain

What are the long-term effects of PTSD?

If it is left untreated, PTSD has the potential to severely impair nearly every area of an individual’s life, leading to a range of long-term negative consequences. Some examples of these negative effects include:

  • Inadequate job performance leading to demotion or job loss
  • Long-term unemployment
  • Financial difficulties
  • Interpersonal relationship strain or breakdown
  • Social isolation
  • Suicidal behaviour
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