Those of us who experienced high levels of stress as children are at increased risk of developing PTSD, sometimes referred to as complex post traumatic stress disorder (CPTSD), as adults.
Whilst it is imperative that a diagnosis for PTSD does NOT derive from self-diagnosis but, instead, comes from a relevantly qualified professional (such as a psychiatrist), the symptoms I list below can give an idea of whether or not one may be suffering from it :
These can be split up into three main PTSD symptom categories as follows below:
1) Symptoms related to avoidance behavior
2) Symptoms related to re-living/ re-experiencing the traumatic events
3) Symptoms related to a person’s biology/physiology/level of physical arousal.
Let’s look at each of these three specific categories of possible PTSD symptoms in turn:
1) Symptoms related to avoidance behavior :
– avoidance of anything that triggers memories of the traumatic experiences, including people, events, and places
– avoiding people connected to the trauma, or avoiding people in general
– avoidance of talking about one’s traumatic experiences
– avoidance of intimacy (both physical and emotional)
2) Symptoms related re-living/ re-experiencing the traumatic events :
– distressing, intrusive, unwanted thoughts
– obsessive and uncontrollable thinking about the trauma one has experienced, perhaps to the point that it is hard to think about, or concentrate on, anything else
– constant sense of fear, vulnerability, being under threat and of being in extreme imminent danger
– transient and spontaneous psychotic symptoms (eg visual hallucinations -such as ‘seeing’ past traumatic events happen again, or auditory hallucinations – such as ‘hearing’ sounds or voices connected to the original trauma
3) Symptoms relating to a person’s biology/physiology/level of physical arousal.
– hypervigilance (feeling ‘keyed up’, tense and constantly on guard)
– hyperventilation (rapid, shallow breathing)
– extreme irritability
– proneness to outbursts of rage that feel out of control and surface unpredictably
– getting into physical fights, especially if using alcohol to numb feelings of distress/fear
– an over-sensitive startle response
– feeling constantly ‘jittery’ and ‘on-edge’
– inability to relax
– insomnia/frequent waking/unrefreshing sleep
Miscellaneous Other Possible Symptoms:
– despair; feeling life is empty and meaningless; feeling numb and ‘dead inside’; anhedonia (inability to feel pleasure); inability to trust others; loss of motivation; loss of interest in previous hobbies/pursuits; loss of interest in sex; cynical and deeply pessimistic outlook; self-neglect; self-harm; thoughts of suicide/suicide attempts; extreme and chronic fatigue; agoraphobia and phobias related to the original trauma.
(NB : Whilst the above list of symptoms is extensive, it is not exhaustive).
For more detailed help and advice regarding this serious condition, click here : Advice from MIND on PTSD.
David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE)