Any serious PTSD blog (and that is definitely what I want this to be!) has to start with the lowdown on the details of posttraumatic stress disorder itself. If you’ve heard about PTSD in the media or if you have a friend or family member – or even think you, yourself, might have a touch of this completely normal reaction to an abnormal circumstance – then right off the bat, it’s good to know the symptoms of PTSD so that you can begin to wrangle the beast.
How To Recognize PTSD
By the time my trauma was over, I’d been in the hospital for several weeks. When I was released my little thirteen year old self hadn’t the vaguest idea about how to cope with what I had experienced. So I didn’t. I pushed it all down, tried to ignore it and focused on learning how to get back to who I was before the world intruded. (Hint: That can’t be done!)
It didn’t take long for me to begin experiencing reactions to trauma that would become the foundation for full blown PTSD. Back in 1981 no one was applying posttraumatic stress response cues to civilian kids. The diagnostic criteria for PTSD itself grew out of the Vietnam veterans experiences, so it makes sense that my doctors didn’t recognize what was developing in me.
The truth is though that despite individual causes of trauma, the PTSD response is universal. Here’s what you need to know….
After a trauma many people experience Acute Stress as the mind and body seek to regain a sense of homeostasis after the shock of trauma itself. Symptoms of Acute Stress include:
- Behavioral disturbances
- Avoidance of memories related to the trauma
Trauma survivors process the recent event through many individual patterns. The diagnosis of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder may be made according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual IV Classification, which means the following six criteria are present:
A. The person was exposed to a traumatic event
B. The traumatic event is constantly re-experienced through at least one of the following processes:
C. Persistent avoidance of stimuli associated with the trauma and numbing of general responsiveness (not present before the trauma)
D. Persistent symptoms of increased arousal (not present before the trauma)
E. Duration of the disturbance (symptoms in Criteria B, C, and D) is more than 1 month.
F. The disturbance causes clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning.
In my next post, I’ll cover a detailed outline of specificPTSD causes.
In the meantime, if you think you might have symptoms of posttraumatic stress syndrome, check out this nifty HealthyPlace PTSD test.