Not all wounds are visible. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a mental health diagnosis that impacts many servicemen and women. But anyone can experience PTSD following a traumatic event. Veterans who think they might be impacted by PTSD should know that they don’t need to have served in combat to experience it as a result of their service, according to the Wounded Warrior Project.
It’s important to talk to your primary care provider, therapist, or behavioral health counselor if you’re noticing symptoms of PTSD after a traumatic event. If you are in crisis, call the Veterans Crisis Line at 988 and press 1 for 24/7 support. Here are some of those symptoms to look out for, according to the National Center for PTSD.
Also known as hyperarousal or feeling on edge or keyed up, hypervigilance can take many forms. After something bad happens to you, it can make you extra alert to potential danger around you, even when that danger is unlikely.
Physically, that might mean you’re jittery, irritable, easily startled, having trouble sleeping, having trouble focusing, experiencing angry outbursts, self-medicating through drugs or alcohol, being anxious, or acting in other unhealthy ways like driving aggressively.
A few bad feelings here and there are normal. But overwhelming, persistent negative emotions can be a symptom of PTSD. That could be things like guilt, shame, or fear you didn’t feel before the traumatic event you experienced. But it could also be numbness. This means you might not be interested in things you used to love, and it can be harder to feel strong emotions toward the people you care about.
You might find yourself forgetting things about the traumatic event or not being able to talk about parts of what happened. Your negative emotions might also appear in the form of nightmares.
Many people are familiar with flashback symptoms relating to PTSD. This is also sometimes called intrusion. It could mean reliving the trauma through nightmares, frightened thoughts, or flashbacks. Frightened thoughts can also come with physical symptoms like heart racing, shaking, sweating, pain or feeling sick.
Hearing, seeing or smelling something (called a trigger) might make you relive the event like you’re there again (known as a flashback). These triggers could be loud noises like fireworks, seeing a flash of a color you associate with that moment, hearing a car accelerate quickly, or hearing a news report.
With PTSD, it’s typical to avoid reminders of the event. This could mean avoiding a variety of things: people, places, things, thoughts, or circumstances that bring up what happened. It might mean not wanting to watch movies with similar events or staying busy so you don’t have time to think about what you went through.
One of the worst things you can do is let avoidance keep you from seeking help because you don’t want to talk about what happened.
It’s important to keep an eye out for these symptoms after trauma. And be sure to seek help early following traumatic events. Feelings like these are all normal after a traumatic experience. But when you notice your symptoms are impacting your life, they last for more than a month following the incident, or they are very upsetting to you, reach out for help.
CHP’s behavioral health clinics can help give you the tools to work through your symptoms at an affordable cost. Reach out to make an appointment for a Zoom or phone session.