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Last Updated: 10/04/2016Risk Factors and Symptoms: Recognizing PTSD
If you or a loved one is in the military, you have likely heard of PTSD (Post-traumatic Stress Disorder). Dramatic depictions of the disorder are often seen on TV, spreading at least some awareness to those who may not have ties to the military.
If you or a loved one has experienced trauma of some kind, military or not, there is certainly a risk for the development of PTSD. The first step toward recovery is recognizing the risk factors and symptoms of PTSD. Here are a few of the most common factors and symptoms of the disorder.
Military Service and Assault are the Top Causes
PTSD is a mental disorder that results from experiencing trauma. In military service, trauma is a little more common than the average citizen. Killing a target, seeing a friend die, or being seriously injured can all be causes of PTSD. A sexual assault, mugging, physical abuse, emotional abuse, and many other forms of trauma can also be triggers for PTSD. If you or someone you care about has experienced an event like this, you (or they) may be at risk for developing PTSD.
Symptoms Differ Person to Person
Though each case of PTSD is different, there is a handful of fairly common symptoms that can tell you whether or not you may be recognizing PTSD. The most typical are nightmares, intrusive memories, flashbacks, paranoia, hypervigilance, and depression.
Of course, you don’t need to have all or even most of these symptoms to be diagnosed with PTSD. If you or a loved one is experiencing any of these symptoms, you should seek help from a professional. If left untreated, PTSD and its symptoms will only grow worse.
Related Issues Can Also Be a Sign
PTSD can cause a number of other issues, all of which can be a way to identify the disorder. Many people who suffer from PTSD find going out in public spaces difficult. The commotion can easily lead to negative memories or flashbacks of their trauma. This potential tends to result in social isolation for people with PTSD.
Unfortunately, while they may be avoiding flashback triggers, they are increasing the likelihood of depression and addiction. When one is secluded in their home with nothing to take their mind off the trauma, it becomes very easy to fall into depression. As a result, many people with PTSD will begin abusing alcohol or drugs to feel better and temporarily forget their trauma.
PTSD sufferers will also experience insomnia as a result of nightmares which in turn aggravates any depression and substance abuse. When left untreated, these related conditions combined with PTSD symptoms can result in suicidal thoughts and actions. The most important thing to do is recognize the signs and get help immediately. The longer one goes without treatment, the worse the disorder can become.
PTSD does not mean your life has to uproot. Recognizing PTSD is likely the best thing you can do to help yourself recover from the trauma. Counseling and possibly medication are your best chances to avoid related issues such as addiction, depression, and suicidal thoughts. With time, treatment will also help reduce the symptoms of the disorder. However, the first and most important step is simply recognizing that you or a loved one needs help and getting the necessary treatment.
Julia Merrill is a retired nurse on a mission. She wants to use information to close the gap between medical providers and their patients. She started BefriendYourDoc.org to do just that. The site offers an abundance of information from tips on finding the right medical care to help with dealing with insurance companies to general health and wellness advice and more.