7 Signs of PTSD and How to Cope with Them

Soldier with Children

Does the danger of a past trauma live on in your mind?

Are you hyper-vigilant? Has  fight or flightbecome a way of life for you?

Does shock and alarm arise on a regular basis, though the trauma that changed your life happened weeks, months or even years ago?

You may be experiencing post traumatic stress syndrome (PTSD). To know for sure, you need to know the signs of PTSD. If they ring true for you, you could greatly benefit from a therapy process called Rapid Resolution Therapy.

Wouldn’t you like to put it behind you and move on with your life?

First, let’s consider the following signs of PTSD:

7 Signs of PTSD

1. Re-experiencing

The memories of the traumatic experience don’t follow any rules and just don’t play fair. They intrude on your life and don’t care what you’re doing. Sights, sounds, or smells may trigger unwanted memories and thus you end up reliving your worst days repeatedly which takes a toll on you.

You may find yourself trying to manage flashbacks or nightmares that create a sense of powerlessness or panic. Insomnia is not unusual and the resulting fatigue can lead to an exacerbation of PTSD symptoms. At times, you may even find you are triggered without really knowing why.

2. Hyper-vigilance

PTSD uses your memories against you. The world feels unsafe, filled with dangers and potential crises. You may feel overwhelmed by a need to keep yourself and those you love protected from the danger you endured.

What is that like? Signs of PTSD hyper-vigilance may include nervousness, edginess or anxiety. You may be easily startled, or endure bouts of panic and irritability. Over time, you may feel completely exhausted with the persistent need to remain hyper-alert, aware and in control.

3. Avoidance

What do you do when you want the traumatic memories gone, but you don’t know how to make them go? Many PTSD sufferers simply don’t go there in their minds.

You might find yourself “numbing out,” or doing what you can to avoid any person, sight, taste, or smell that could trigger a traumatic memory. In time, a real loss of interest in life, goals, or pleasurable activity occurs, as well as, an ability to recall other happier times. Often avoidance can become a preoccupation and fosters conditions like depression or anxiety.

4.  Interpersonal Issues

One of PTSD’s most costly signs is the loss of comfort and support through personal relationships.

Friends and family may find it difficult to reach out or connect with you. You may struggle to trust people the way you once did. Positive feelings may succumb and give way to hurt, anger and resentment.

You may want to deal with uneasy interpersonal issues with isolation or by lashing out. If PTSD leads you to behave irrationally or dangerously, seek help immediately to protect yourself and those around you.

5.  Replacement and Chronic Pain

PTSD takes more than a mental toll. It stresses your body too.

PTSD signs of replacement pain often include chronic maladies like severe headaches, digestive disturbances, and unrelenting muscle aches.

Generally, these somatic (bodily) problems are not directly attributed to the trauma itself but arise from the unaddressed emotional upheaval you carry with you. It can only be depleting energy and awareness. In fact, past trauma wears down the quality of your present life and relationships, as well as, your health and ability to heal. When trauma clears, mind reboots and updates-the difference in your life is phenomenal. One difference is the way your body will be healing. Gotta be a significant change in the way you feel now and for the rest of  your life.

6. Panic and Social Anxiety

PTSD Research notes that PTSD tends to fuel panic disorder, social anxiety, and agoraphobia in women especially. (Male PTSD survivors lean toward substance abuse and overt aggression.)

PTSD signs of panic seem to come out of nowhere. The panic stimulates thoughts of the traumatic situation, which then triggers avoidance or hyper-vigilance… and a PTSD cycle is born. RRT can stop the cycle by clearing your mind.

PTSD also interferes with communication and includes feelings of shame and embarrassment that can lead to a fear of social interaction.

7. Body Issues and Eating Disorders

PTSD signs may also reveal issues with body image and consumption of food. This is most commonly associated with female PTSD involving some sort of sexual assault or bodily violation.

Eating disorders often connect to traumatic histories. Food addictions or food rejection attempts are frequent efforts to establish a sense of control.

If you are reading this, you probably already know how PTSD can impact your life and future. It keeps you in crisis mode, stuck re-experiencing the very worst experiences of your life and may alienate your closest friends and family. It doesn’t have to be that way. Wouldn’t you like to put it in the past where it belongs?  Rapid Resolution Therapy can help.

How to Cope: Counseling and Self-Care

Counseling: Rapid Resolution Therapy

PTSD does not go away on its own. You won’t want to think about counseling at first, but you are wise to try. You deserve peace and calm that comes when your mind clears and updates. You remember the incident but the emotions that formerly came up when thinking about it no longer arise.

You may have sought counseling in the past and found it wasn’t helpful. Talking about your experience and re-living it only made it worse. There is another option like RRT. You will not be expected to talk about the event. This treatment has shown to be extremely beneficial, it is brief and accomplished in just  2 to 6 sessions. Don’t you owe it to yourself and your people to give it a try? RRT uses stories, imagery, and metaphors to assist in emotional healing. The process is gentle and helps you clear your mind, promotes healing and a sense of calm and peace. Once again your life can include joy, happiness and a focus on the future, instead of the past. You can put this behind you and move on with your life. And it is backed by recent Neuroscience.

Self-Care: Give yourself the tools you need

1. Take back control with self-education. Read up on PTSD and RRT.

2. Seek an RRT certified counselor. He/she will lead you through the process.      Clear your mind -change your world. You will be so glad you did.

In the meantime you can:

3. Practice breathing intentionally. Investigate calming breathing techniques (posted on this website under anxiety/panic attacks). PTSD sufferers hold their breath more than they realize.  Breathing slowly and calmly tells the body and mind that there is no threat-no emergency. Thus calming you down.

4. Learn to ground yourself. Practice techniques that help you stay present like focusing on people and what is going on around you or describing your surroundings in detail. By learning to concentrate and focus in the moment, you direct your attention to the present moment- the here and now- instead of the past.

 If you live with constant tension, fighting to hold down fear or trauma, it’s time to seek relief. Reach out, don’t wait, PTSD rarely fades away on its own.

Your future can be so much more than managing the pain of your past. You deserve to live a life that includes happiness and joy. Let’s put the past behind you. Call me, I can help.

Certified Rapid Resolution Therapist

Cathy Austin, Registered Psychotherapist