You were in a very close call when another car almost ran head-on
into yours. You witnessed a disturbing violent act against someone in your
family. You experienced abuse as a child. You lived through the fear and
uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic. You were in combat as a member of the
military. Any of these, and many other traumatic experiences could cause you to
have post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). During PTSD Awareness Month, it’s
important to understand what PTSD looks like.
PTSD is typically associated with the military, but anybody
who’s experienced a traumatic event can have the anxiety disorder. A
crime, fire, accident, or death of a loved one can be traumatizing. An extended
experience such as long-term abuse or even the pandemic can also have a
devastating effect which could leave someone with PTSD.
When an event occurs, such as a car accident, the individual
may feel upset for a while but often that feeling will get better with time. If
the individual becomes more fearful and anxious, and begins displaying symptoms
that last longer than a month, they could have PTSD. The disorder affects about
7-8% of the population, with women more likely to be affected than men. Symptoms
usually start within three months of the events, but they can surface much
What Does PTSD Look Like?
The anxiety disorder can look different for different
people. There may be physical symptoms such as shaking, sweating, headaches, dizziness,
stomach issues, and chest pain. The individual may also experience a weakened immune
system, which could lead to frequent infections. Sleep disturbances can be an
issue for some people, which can result in a feeling of being tired as well as
PTSD may also manifest itself in long-term behavioral
changes, which can contribute to issues on the job and with personal
relationships. An individual with PTSD may start to use or misuse drugs,
medications, and alcohol. Behavioral changes can include becoming
sad and hopeless, paranoid, fearful, or angry. An individual may withdraw from
social interaction and lose interest in once-favorite activities.
Feeling Stressed or Frightened
When something potentially dangerous happens to a person,
their natural sense of “fight or flight” will usually kick in. These
split-second changes in the body and the mind help defend against danger or
avoid it completely. Once the danger has passed, an individual’s reaction
to it can continue to cause issues, in the form of the anxiety disorder PTSD. People
who have PTSD continue to feel frightened or stressed, even after they are no
longer in danger.
A traumatic event does not have to be life threatening to
cause PTSD. An unexpected death of a close loved one can also leave an
individual feeling traumatized. The stress of dealing with the isolation and
fear of an unfamiliar virus can cause be traumatizing.
Three Main Types of PTSD Symptoms
There are three main types
of symptoms associated with PTSD:
- Re-experiencing. A person may re-experience
the trauma through flashbacks, nightmares, and other intrusive recollections of
the event. Re-experiencing symptoms can include physical symptoms such as
sweating or a racing heart.
- Emotional numbness and avoidance. The individual
may avoid the people, places, and activities that remind them of their
traumatic event or experience.
- Increased arousal. An individual may feel
jumpy, have trouble concentrating, or be easily angered or irritated.
Cognition and Mood Symptoms
When an individual has PTSD, they display the symptoms
within the three main categories, as well as in the category of Cognition and Mood,
for a month or longer. Cognition and mood symptoms can include:
- Having trouble remembering details of the
- Experiencing distorted feelings such as blame or
- Negative thoughts about the world or about
These symptoms can result in the individual feeling alienated
or detached from family and friends.
Some people recover from their PTSD within six months, while
others take longer. Seeking treatment for the anxiety disorder is always a good
idea to help manage the symptoms and process the trauma.
California Faith-Based Addiction Treatment
Celebrate Hope is here for you when you need help with
mental health issues, such as the anxiety disorder PTSD, particularly when they
co-occur with addiction. Please contact Celebrate
Hope to learn more about our faith-based dual diagnosis treatment program. Our
team helps men and women address the vicious cycle of mental illness and
addiction so they can begin life anew. We rely on the teachings of Jesus
Christ, along with evidence-based therapies to get individuals on the path of