Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD); It’s Not A Veterans-Only Disorder

By: Tammy Edinger, LMSW, LCSW, ACSW, BCD

Are you struggling with how you respond to situations? Are your loved ones finding your responses to situations frightening? Have you been referred to as “mean, abrasive, aggressive”? If so, take a moment to review some basic information related to PTSD.

What is PTSD? It is feelings, behaviors, and thought processes related to a traumatic event that an individual experiences.

What is a traumatic event? Childhood abuse (physical, sexual, verbal, emotional), house fires, motor vehicle collisions, natural disasters, physical assaults, witnessing horrific incidents, fear of yourself or others being killed, harmed, or maimed.

How does the traumatic event become PTSD? By avoiding dealing with and processing the traumatic event. Individuals who suffer a traumatic event and seek help are less likely to develop PTSD.

Signs and Symptoms of PTSD

  • Repeated, disturbing dreams, thoughts, or images related to a traumatic event(s)
  • Nightmares/night terrors
  • Feeling or acting as if a traumatic event were happening again
  • Feeling upset when something reminds you of a stressful event
  • Physical reactions when you’re reminded of a stressful event
  • Avoiding activities, events, situations, feelings, places, people, and objects for fear you’ll be reminded of the stressful event
  • Trouble remembering all of the traumatic events (most individuals believe they do remember all of the events)
  • Feelings of irritability and anger
  • Sleep disturbance
  • Poor concentration
  • Being hyper-alert, watchful, on guard
  • Easily startled, jumpy
  • Feeling distant/cut off from others
  • Struggling with feelings of love for those close to you
  • Feeling emotionally numb
  • Loss of interest in things you once enjoyed
  • Believing your life will be cut short

Some Everyday Behaviors of Individuals with PTSD

Public Behaviors:

  • Uncomfortable in crowds
  • Uncomfortable with or unwilling to allow others to walk behind them
  • Insisting on sitting at the perimeter of a restaurant, facing the door, and planning a way to escape
  • Avoiding movie theaters. If willing to attend a movie, they will sit at the very back with their back against the wall or at the end of the aisle, close to the exit.
  • Refusing to stand in long lines
  • Unable to grocery shop during peak hours
  • In general, does not feel safe in public spaces and prefers to be at home

Interactions with others:

  • Scheduling social activities and canceling at the last minute
  • Intolerant of others
  • Regular use of derogatory terms for others such as stupid, dumb, etc.
  • Choosing to have solitary jobs or fobs of authority

Private behaviors:

  • Staying profoundly busy
  • Consistent checking of perimeters, windows, and door locks
  • Upon arrival to an empty home, will perform room-to-room check
  • Prefers to have their bedroom on the second floor if possible

Individuals with PTSD are frequently misdiagnosed as having Bipolar and ADD/ADHD. If any of this sounds familiar, please reach out for help at The Wellness Institute of Michigan. You can recover from PTSD!