Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) – What You Should Know
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is something that we hear about more and more often. It can be extremely beneficial to see representation of mental health concerns in the media, especially for people who may not have known the different ways that PTSD can impact their lives. However, some of what you see may not be completely accurate. In this blog, the Lansing Counseling team will walk through answers to the most frequently asked questions about PTSD and discuss the importance of therapy as part of the healing process.
What Is PTSD?
PTSD is a mental health condition triggered by traumatic experiences. Following traumatic events, some people can heal quickly and move forward without experiencing much change in their daily lives. Others will struggle. It can be helpful to compare the different ways that people heal from psychological traumas to the varying ways they heal after physical trauma. For example, three people can have similar injuries. One person will have light bruises that last for a few days, another won’t bruise at all, and the third person may have bruises that are deep and painful, lasting weeks or months. Their bodies process these injuries differently. Our minds also process injuries inflicted by experiencing or witnessing traumatic events in different ways. Those who experience significant impairment to daily function that lasts for weeks, months, or years after traumatic events may be diagnosed with PTSD.
How Is PTSD Diagnosed?
To diagnose PTSD, therapists will look at how the traumatic event impacts a person’s life, the severity of these effects, and how long a person has struggled with them. Each person’s experience with PTSD is different, but some of the common warning signs include:
Changes in Behavior
- Loss of interest in activities they once enjoyed
- Avoiding situations that may be triggering
- Self-medicating through the use of alcohol or other substances
- Being hypervigilant
- Engaging in self-destructive, dangerous, or promiscuous behaviors
- Startling easily
Changes in Mood
- Severe anxiety
- Safety planning
- Extreme fear in situations where it may not be warranted
- Easily angered or frustrated
- Irritability and mood swings
- Feelings of depression
- Belief that no one can understand them
- Feelings of isolation
Changes in Thinking
- Frequent flashbacks or nightmares related to the trauma
- Difficulty concentrating
- Struggling to remember details (may or may not be directly related to the traumatic event)
- Experiencing self-hatred, low self-worth, or extreme guilt
Changes in Health
- Unable to sleep or sleep too much
- Weight fluctuation
- Get sick more easily or stay sick longer
- Experience unexplained aches and pains
- Frequent headaches or migraines
What Are the Risk Factors for PTSD?
Anyone of any age or gender identity can experience PTSD. However, individuals may be at an increased risk if they:
- Have a job that puts them in danger (military service members, police officers, etc.)
- Work in a field related to death or dying (mortuaries, hospitals, etc.)
- Experience or witness trauma, abuse, or neglect as a child
- Have struggled with mental illness in the past
- Have a family history of PTSD
- Are dealing with stress and anxiety prior to the traumatic event
Does Therapy Help with PTSD?
For those struggling with PTSD, working with a therapist can significantly alleviate the daily impact of this condition and help them heal. If you’re struggling with PTSD or are looking for support to achieve any other therapy goals, the Lansing Counseling team is here to help. To get started working with our team, you can call (517) 300-0981, email [email protected], or use our simple online contact form.
5030 Northwind Dr Suite 101
East Lansing, MI 48823