Over the past several years, there have been numerous traumatic events making news all across the country. From incidents of mass violence to devastating natural disasters, hundreds of thousands of Americans have experienced or witnessed a disastrous or life-threatening event. In addition to tragedies such as these, anyone who has experienced a shocking or dangerous incident (such as a car accident, a robbery, an act of violence, or sexual abuse) is at risk of developing Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
PTSD is a serious mental disorder that requires medical treatment. PTSD can have devastating effects on every aspect of a person’s life, from their marriage and family, to their friendships and career. If you’re concerned that a loved one may be suffering from PTSD, here are some signs to look out for.
Reliving the Trauma
Someone with PTSD have repeated, involuntary re-experiences of the event or intrusive thoughts about it. They may experience bad dreams or flashbacks. They’re also vulnerable to certain triggers that remind them of what happened, such as sounds or smells.
Someone silently suffering from trauma may be prone to anger, agitation, or sadness. Feeling irritable, the sufferer may be prone to outbursts of anger that they can’t control. If you’ve noticed your loved one frequently losing control and lashing out in anger, this is a sign that they’re suffering emotionally and require treatment.
People suffering from PTSD will avoid people and situations that are reminders of the situation. As the victim continues to isolate themselves, how their friends and family react to their withdrawal will likely further isolate them, causing additional emotional distress.
It’s not uncommon for people with PTSD to self-medicate, seeking an escape from high levels of stress and difficult emotions. Some may keep themselves so busy they don’t have time to think or feel. Others might numb with food or sleep. Others turn to drugs or alcohol, which leads to risk of addiction. The painful trademark of substance abuse is the growing need for more of the drug to produce the same high. If left untreated, as substance abuse grows, the abuse will turn to addiction and eventually dependence. This can have devastating effects on every facet of a person’s life.
If you’re concerned that a loved one is experiencing symptoms of trauma, the most important think you can do is encourage them to seek professional diagnosis and treatment as soon as possible. Assure them of your support throughout the process.
For additional guidance and recommendations from a licensed professional, call our office today. We have licensed counselors available to help with trauma processing, including counselors that use evidenced-based approaches such as EMDR and Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy for Trauma.