Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) stems from unpleasant life-changing events that happened to someone or people around them. Usually, when something traumatic happens, it takes people time to get over it, but it's not the case for everyone. Some people's trauma from a harsh incident can linger for months or even years. This is why two people can experience the exact same trauma, and not heal at the same time.
Statistics revealed that six out of hundred people in the U.S. will likely experience PTSD at some point in their life. It shows that PTSD is more common than people imagine. PTSD comes with sadness, paranoia, anger, guilt, flashbacks, isolation, irritation and often times, nightmares. Depending on the incident, people with PTSD can also experience numbness, sleeplessness, anxiety, detachment and disinterest in the things they love. And this to a large extent, affects how they go about their everyday life.
What causes PTSD?
So many dreadful, unforgettable experiences can lead to PTSD. Here are a few common causes of PTSD:
▪️ Violence/physical assault
▪️ Natural disasters like floods, tsunamis, earthquakes, wildfires, etc.
▪️ Mental abuse
▪️ Sexual assault
▪️ Loss of loved ones
▪️ Loss of finances
1. PTSD from a home accident
Clara had an accident at home about two years ago. She slipped and fell on the ice in her driveway, and as a result, had a concussion. After which she struggled with post-concussion syndrome, enduring neck pain, headaches, and awful vertigo spells.
She went to multiple doctors trying to get help, including a neurologist. Tests showed that Clara had no permanent damage, but she still experienced vertigo spells, awful and scary, lingered. She tried physical therapy and this finally brought her relief.
Effects of PTSD on a person after an accident at home
Despite the relieve from physical therapy, Clara felt a few changes.
1. She felt more vulnerable
2. Flashbacks brought awful vertigo, and the room spinning round her.
3. The loss of herself
4. She became more conscious of her environment
5. Avoided doing some of her daily routines due to fear
6. Lived with a generally diminished feeling about her capacities.
2. PTSD from witnessing a drowning
David was 13 years old when his best friend drowned in a lake. They were swimming in the lake when they noticed the disappearance of their friend in the lake. That was when they realized that something terrible must have happened. They immediately called for help, but the friend gave up on getting to the hospital.
David tried the best he could to seek mental therapy. But even after 17 years, he still has recurring nightmares and flashbacks from the terrible incident.
Effects of PTSD on a person after witnessing a drowning
1. David struggles with occasional insomnia and sleeplessness
2. Any body of water brings back bad memories
3. He constantly regrets going to the lake that day, and wished he was able to save his friend
4. Distanced from friends and family, but is working on repairing his relationships
3. PTSD from sexual and physical assault
Lisa was a victim of sexual and physical assault at the age of 21. She was sexually assaulted by her ex-boyfriend, and that experience traumatized her. She had moved in with her ex-boyfriend immediately after her mother passed at the age of 18.
The love she thought would last forever became one of her biggest regrets. The abuse led to a miscarriage due to the constant physical assault that almost took her life.
Lisa has been in and out of therapy trying to find her old self again. She's 33 years now, but the experience has given her severe PTSD.
Effects of PTSD on a person after sexual and physical assault
1. Lisa still has nightmares and sleeplessness
2. She's edgy and insecure around the opposite sex, and it has affected her relationship with them over the years
3. She withdraws at any slight confrontation or arguments
4. Lack of mental focus
5. Avoidant in relationships and friendships
6. Guilt and sadness for losing her baby
Who can have PTSD?
The above and more are causes of PTSD in people of all ages. Unlike what many people think, PTSD isn't peculiar to adults only. PSTD can happen to children and teenagers. The U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs revealed that 15% to 43% of girls and 14% to 43% of boys, and of which 3% to 15% of girls and 1% to 6% of boys develop PTSD. Many of these children and teens become adults with PTSD if undiagnosed or misdiagnosed.
How does someone with PTSD behave?
When you experience traumatic incidents that result to PTSD, you tend to be edgy, anxious, alert, scared, exasperated, extremely careful, avoidant, distant, etc. Undiagnosed or misdiagnosed PTSD affects people's everyday life, and can interrupt their mental and physical wellbeing.
5 Ways PTSD Affects Your Everyday Life
1. How you handle relationship with family and friends
This mostly happens when the trauma is linked to your relationship with friends and family. Your PTSD triggers you to emotionally and physically distance yourself from people, friends and family. You’ll skip and avoid occasions to escape being around them, which often leads to isolation.
And in most cases where you're in contact with family and friends, you’re withdrawn, absent-minded, lost in thoughts and mostly unaware of what's happening around you. Children who grew up in physically and emotionally abusive households tend to disconnect and distant from family members or relations.
2. Attitude towards work
A traumatized mind is barely a productive worker. PTSD has the ability to make even the best workaholics unproductive at work. No matter how hard you try to carry out your job, your performance will be affected when you’re struggling with PTSD. This mostly happens when the traumatic incident happened at work.
If you were sexually assaulted, harassed, or mentally abused at work, you will likely experience reoccurring flashbacks at work. You can take breaks, paid time off, seek a transfer, or leave the company.
Some companies that prioritize their employees' mental health offer the professional help of a trauma therapist. It’s important to seek help if you know they genuinely want to help you.
3. Loss of interest in daily activities
One early signs of PTSD is when you start skipping or totally avoiding your daily routines, especially when these activities make up your entire day. Such activities include skipping meals, exercises, chores, etc. This is not because you want to, but because you aren't in the right mental space to carry out these daily activities. When you suddenly start losing interest in the things you love to do due to a traumatizing experience, it’s important you speak to a professional therapist for early diagnosis.
4. Change in perception of love and relationship
PTSD can ruin your perception of love and relationship, especially when that traumatic experience was from someone you loved and cherished. Being heartbroken, betrayed, jilted, or sexually violated makes you perceive love and relationship differently. It often results to lack of trust, distance avoidance, anxiety, attachment, detachment, self-sabotage, fear of abandonment, or genophobia and erotophobia.
5. Inconsistent night routines
PTSD leads to sleeplessness and insomnia. It is of the most common signs that you have PTSD. Medical professionals, especially sleep experts opine that insomnia results from not being able to sleep or remain asleep for a minimum of three times a week. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) reports that 30% - 35% of American adults experience brief symptoms of insomnia. This brief insomnia in adults mostly results from undiagnosed PTSD.
What to do if you have PTSD?
1. Practice self-awareness - observe yourself
After noticing signs of PTSD, it's of utmost importance you watch the pattern to understand the dynamics of your trauma. This is to help you vividly understand and give detailed report to your therapist if it warrants seeing a therapist. Your therapist or any professional you'll consult will need all the details you've noticed to be able to diagnose and recommend treatments.
2. Speak to a therapist
Avoid self-diagnoses and speak to a licensed therapist to counsel and guide you. A trauma specialist is trained to listen to your struggles with PTSD, so don't think nobody has time to listen to you. Also, the earlier you reach out to a specialist, and do what they prescribe, the faster you heal and become better.
3. Communicate with friends and family
Having people who will support your healing process is a blessing. PTSD is not a battle you fight alone or in silence. It's a battle you win with the help, support and understanding of your family and friends. Don't be ashamed to share your burden with them.
4. Join support groups
You will gain strength by being around people who have worked or are working towards healing like you. Support groups helps you draw strength, courage and solace in people who have gone or going through the exact experience.
5. Give yourself grace
Healing starts when you're gracious with yourself in the quest of recovery. You're not too hard on yourself for not being your normal self. You accept that it's a phase you have to consciously save yourself from with the help of therapists, friends, family and support group.
Battling PTSD is draining, but accepting you need help and seeking the help and support of a therapist is a step in the right direction. There’s no shame in putting your mental health first even when people trivialize it. Undiagnosed PTSD has the capacity to steal your best years if you keep downplaying it.
Seek professional help today by booking a session to speak with licensed trauma specialist.