Sebastian walked onto the subway car relaxed and ready for the ride home. After a few stops, the car was full, and his back was pinned against the wall. Sebastian felt the fear rise within him, and at the next stop, he took action. Sebastian hopped off the subway and ran home instead. A few months earlier, Sebastian had been in a warzone. He served his country and had returned home safely. The only problem was, Sebastian did not feel safe. He repeatedly had panic attacks in small spaces. When talking with a mental health professional, Sebastian came to understand that he was fighting Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). He sought treatment, and he told his story to Vanity Fair so that others can come to know how to recognize PTSD and seek help for it.
“Trauma is hell on earth. Trauma resolved is a gift from the gods.”
― Peter A. Levine
PTSD can develop within days of a traumatic event, or it can take months or even years to show itself. Regardless of how it forms, it is important to seek help. Just like any other illness, treating PTSD often requires professional oversight. Thriveworks Peachtree City offers PTSD counseling because we know that it is a difficult disease, but we also know that people can heal. We have helped many people with PTSD find safety.
PTSD: Risk Factors and Development
Just because someone experiences a traumatic event does not mean they will have Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Some do. Others do not. Mental health professionals do not know exactly what the difference is. They know that developing PTSD has nothing to do with being weak or strong, inadequate or able. No, the risk factors that raise an individual’s chances of having PTSD are largely outside of their control. For example, the risk factors of PTSD include…
- Surviving a severe and/or on-going traumatic event.
- Genetics: family of mental health challenges, especially anxiety and depression.
- An individual’s brain functioning: how it regulates and releases hormones when stress, threatened, or endangered.
- The kind, intensity, and longevity of trauma experienced.
- Having anemic social and emotional community support.
- Working a job where trauma exposure is possible: police officer, military personnel, first responder, ER doctor, and more.
- Experiencing other forms of trauma throughout one’s life—especially childhood abuse.
- Current or a history of addiction or substance abuse.
Trauma can come in a number of forms—there is no mold. The kinds of trauma that may develop into PTSD could never be listed, but may include being threatened, combat exposure, sexual violence, being bullied, physical assault, experiencing an accident (fire, car crash, et cetera), receiving a terminal diagnosis, childhood abuse (sexual, physical, or emotional), and more.
PTSD: Signs and Symptoms
“Very minor threats can be experienced, by what the signals in your body tell you, as, ‘You’re in acute danger’”
—Sandra Bloom, former president of the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies
PTSD has four different categories of signs and symptoms:
Rearranging One’s life
When people have PTSD, they may completely rearrange their lives so as to avoid anything that could potentially remind them of the trauma, whether big or small. Instead of processing the pain and moving forward, PTSD can send people into avoidance mode. In the process, they may also avoid the good that the world has to offer. When people have PTSD, they may…
- Refuse to ride in a vehicle or drive a car.
- Avoid meeting up with friends to avoid crowds and feeling trapped.
- Stop watching movies, TV, and the news.
Re-living the Event
When people have PTSD, they may also re-experience the trauma over and over again. At unanticipated and inauspicious times, the feelings and images can come flooding to the forefront of an individual’s attention. These re-experiences of the trauma may look like..
- Having intrusive flashbacks and memories that feel as if the event is currently happening.
- Triggers—certain sights, sounds, or smells that conjure the trauma and its emotions.
- Night terrors and nightmares where people wake up in anxiety and fear.
Even though the danger may have passed, people with PTSD may still be alert to any and every potential danger. This hyperarousal is often exhausting, and people may have
- Challenges concentrating on the task at hand.
- A quick startle response to surprises or loud noises.
- Difficulty sleeping.
New, Negative Feeling and Beliefs
Trauma has a way of changing the way that people see themselves and the world. People often learn false and negative thinking patterns from trauma. They may begin to tell themselves that…
- The world is always and forever unsafe.
- No one can be trusted, and every relationship is dangerous.
- They have to forget about the trauma to move forward.
PTSD Treatment at Thriveworks Peachtree City
As you read through the signs and symptoms of PTSD, was there anything you recognized? If so, you are not alone. Thriveworks Peachtree City has therapists and psychologists who understand what PTSD is, how it functions, and the treatment options available. We have worked with many survivors and helped them heal. If you are ready to work with a mental health professional, consider reaching out to Thriveworks Peachtree City. When you contact our office, you will not reach a voicemail, but a scheduling specialist will help you make an appointment. Call today.