Sun | Sep 26, 2021

5 Silent Signs of PTSD

Published:Monday | August 19, 2019 | 12:00 AMLatara Boodie/Gleaner Writer

Although we may associate post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) with male veterans, statistics show that women actually have higher rates of the condition. Women are twice as likely to experience PTSD than men because they are exposed to more emotional, sexual, and physical abuse than male counterparts. Here are five silent signs that could indicate that you have PTSD.


1. Hyperarousal


This is an intense experience of thoughts, feelings, behaviours, and physical sensations resulting from the traumatic event. The body’s chemical reaction to the trauma can put the person in extreme survival mode we know as fight, flight or freeze. Freeze happens when the person becomes immobilised by fear. Needless to say, this is a very painful and scary experience. These persons have the tendency to become easily overwhelmed or worked up and can’t calm down, or can’t fall asleep at night.


2. Re-experiencing


This could manifest as flashbacks or nightmares, or feeling like you are re-experiencing or reliving the fear from the event that triggered the PTSD. This happens when you encounter everyday triggers around you that remind you of something that has to do with the event. PTSD can actually manifest itself as depression or anxiety, or mood changes that make you feel low, high, sad, angry, upset, for ‘seemingly’ no reason.


3. Risky Behaviour


People will often attempt to engage in risky behaviour to recreate similar circumstances, or feelings and experiences related to the original trauma. They do this so they can regain a sense of control with the hope that the outcome will be different than the original experience. Some examples of risky behaviours may be driving very fast or recklessly, walking alone in areas that are known to be dangerous, instigating arguments with others that are likely to result in possible physical fighting or even something like procrastinating on work assignments just to push the envelope.


4. Hypervigilance


If you’ve experienced a traumatic event, you feel that if it happened once, it can happen again. In a way, this hypervigilance provides a sense of security. If someone is always “expecting the unexpected” they can be better prepared and hopefully enact a different outcome than when the trauma happened. It is, in a way, an attempt to protect yourself. Unfortunately, the surge of adrenaline that makes us feel on edge, anxious, and panicked. It will make the person believe they have to create even more chaos, problems, and even physical health conditions.


5. Drinking or Using Drugs


There is a strong connection between PTSD and increased drinking or drug use, a behavior often referred to as self-medication. People suffering from PTSD are often desperate to find a way to soothe these unpleasant feelings, and that’s where substance abuse enters the equation. In some cases, it can lead to addiction or dependence that only makes things worse.


If you are a survivor of a traumatic event and have nightmares, insomnia, depression, or anxiety, trauma counseling can help. See your doctor to get more information about treatment.