fear sad woman broken imageHave you heard of PTSD or wonder what it is? Does it sound like some disease or something weird? Ever think it only associated with people in the military or law enforcement? Have other people told you that you might have it because of what you’ve gone through or how you react in certain situations? Was there a time or two when you witnessed or were involved in a life threatening event? Do you find yourself “jumpy” when you see certain movements or hear specific noises? Do you find yourself avoiding particular places altogether or at certain times of the day? Are there times when you just “fly off the handle” and later wonder why? Is it hard to move on with your life because of what happened?

If you said yes to any or all of the above questions about what you have experienced, may be feeling or doing, there is a possibility that you are experiencing signs and symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD for short. In our years of counseling people who have or had similar experiences or reactions to these experiences, we have found various ways to help our clients work through these things to feel better about themselves. If you are stuck or are uncertain about what you are living through, we can help. You don’t have to go it alone in your pain and suffering.

What is PTSD?

PTSD can be defined as a mental health condition that is set off (occurs) after one experiences a traumatic, intensively stressful event or events whether one was actively involved or had witnessed the event or events. Further, one who has experienced this event has also had to exhibit certain signs and symptoms which may include the following: flashbacks of the event/s, nightmares, distressing or fragmented memories about the event/s, hypervigilance, severe anxiety, angry outbursts, disruption with your sleep, feel detached from others, uncontrollable thoughts about the event/s as well as some other signs and symptoms.

Wow…okay that’s a lot of stuff. Let’s shorten the list a little bit and explain it in everyday life terms to make it easier to sort out and understand.

Signs and Symptoms

Experienced an intense, significant life changing event. There are many events that may fit into this category such as a being involved in or witnessing a shooting, a car accident, rape, incest, attempt of murder or held at gunpoint, in a fire, physically or sexually abused as a child, near drowning, witnessing a death or near death, torture, or other life threatening events.

Reliving the trauma. This occurs when you may have flashbacks of the event, you may not remember certain details of what happened, and you may get nightmares associated with various aspects of the event/s. This reliving it can really take its toll on the survivor and it can leave you feeling powerless, stuck or even out of control.  Sights, sounds, or smells may prompt unwanted or distressing memories, thoughts, physical responses, or even unwanted reactions toward others. You may sometimes find yourself triggered without really knowing why. You might snap at others, become irritated at the slightest bit of distraction or changes in your environment.

Hypervigilance. This is like hyper-awareness of anything and everything going on around you whether real or at times imagined. It’s a sharp, keen sensitivity that is generally mixed together with fear, frustration, and anger while intermingled with a bunch or stress. This makes life rather hairy and at times unmanageable as you may be checking or re-checking a door or window to see if it is locked, gripping the steering wheel hard while driving, “jumpy” when you hear certain sounds, looking around you anyplace you are for the slightest bit of change or appearance of threat to you or others. You may feel on edge or keyed up ready “for the other shoe to drop”. You may feel as if the entire world is made up of hidden dangers and unexpected disasters that you are somehow a part of. It sucks feeling this way. You may be edgy with a constant need or drive to keep yourself or those you love safe from whatever may or may not happen. You get pretty exhausted because of it.

Avoidance. You find yourself trying to move forward in your life and how you may do that is by avoiding people, places, and anything associated with the traumatic event/s you experienced.  You may have rearranged your schedule, your drive to work or to the store, you may have even moved across town or to another city. Other things you may find yourself doing to avoid these nagging memories is to drink alcohol, use drugs (prescribed or not), gamble, work long hours, or other such activities.  The future may even feel shortened and hope is at a standstill…as if you question what the future may hold.

Disruption in relationships. You may find yourself in arguments only to wonder why you got so upset over something that wouldn’t have upset you in the past.  You may find it hard to engage in meaningful conversations or have difficulty being close emotionally with those you love or wish to love. Once enjoyed activities such as dating or date night, going out to a friends for BBQ or other fun activities seem to have faded away. You may battle with intimacy with your spouse and have a sense of being disconnected from him or her.

If you are experiencing PTSD, you are not alone. Many others are going through the mindset-rest your mindsame or similar experiences. We have discovered that when clients who come to us with PTSD are ready, they take a look into getting off the emotional rollercoaster of what they are going through day after day. With them, we are able to apply our training and experience in helping them overcome the negative impact of their traumatic event/s and regain a sense of self and well-being and have a much better and hopeful outlook on their current as well as future lives.  Counselors with Pathways have unique backgrounds and life experiences of their own which with their academic education, particular training in PTSD treatment, and professional experience are here to guide, encourage, empower, accept and counsel you towards peace, hope, mental health and positive changes.

If you or someone you know is struggling with PTSD, please feel free to read more about our Counselors, read other blog articles on our website, contact us here at 520-292-9750, or send an email to joel@pathwaystucson.com.