Even though post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is commonly associated with war and military veterans, it can affect men, women and children of any age. In fact, PTSD can be triggered by any type of trauma, including car accidents, sexual abuse, domestic violence, and even natural disasters. It occurs from recorded embedded memories in the brain’s neuropathways, which allows the memory to repeat the traumatic feelings. Essentially, it’s an imprint that can be set off by other events, thoughts, or daily experiences. PTSD can last a few weeks or many years.
In traumatic experiences, the brain shifts into a reactive mode, which activates your body’s flight or fight mode. After the traumatic event, the body’s nervous system should shift back into a restorative mode; however, sometimes the brain will continue to be bothered by this imprinted memory of trauma. In these cases, the brain will keep the survivor in a constant reactive state, which is called PTSD.
Four Signs of PTSD:
- Intrusive memories: This includes recurrent and unwanted stressful memories of the traumatic event. Often called flashbacks, intrusive memories can be day dreams or nightmares. These memories usually result in severe emotional or physical distress.
- Avoidance: People experiencing PTSD typically look to avoid thinking about or retelling the story of the traumatic event because the thoughts can lead to intrusive memories. Additionally, people will usually opt to avoid people, places, and activities that may remind them of the event.
- Mood alterations: PTSD often manifests in symptoms similar to depression: hopelessness, negative self-worth, and issues with relationships. It can also lead to memory problems regarding the traumatic event.
- Arousal symptoms: PTSD leads to negative physical and emotional reactions such as easily being frightened or scared to do things, always being on-guard, insomnia, feelings of guilt/shame, irritability and self-destructive behavior.
PTSD symptoms often intensify and grow over time.
It’s possible for childhood trauma to manifest much later in life. The memories are embedded and could be brought back at various stages of life. It’s important to note that many people will be able to cope and rebound to their normal selves within a month of a traumatic event; however, people experiencing any symptoms for more than a month will be experiencing PTSD.
It’s time to see a doctor or mental-healthcare provider if the symptoms are severe or prevalent for more than one month. After trauma, most people will need some time to get their lives back on track, but if the PTSD is persisting, it’s best to get help before any of the symptoms intensify. If you or someone you love is looking for support and treatment options for PTSD, please give our patient care specialists a confidential phone call at 716-831-1800.