After experiencing any traumatic incident, it’s natural to replay the experience in your mind. For example, every single person who attended the October 1, 2017 Route 91 Harvest Music Festival in Las Vegas will, unquestionably, carry psychological scars for the rest of their lives. Unfortunately, when humans experience or witness a tragedy, it’s normal for vivid memories to be seared into our brains.
It’s also normal for disturbing memories to fade over time and become less frightening. Even after unthinkable tragedy, life goes on. Sadly, for some victims or witnesses of horrific events, the memories don’t fade. They remain vivid and front of mind, and surface at unexpected times. The mental images they continually replay are so debilitating that resuming life as normal seems impossible. These individuals, in essence, are hostage to their nightmare. They relive it again and again in harrowing detail and are powerless to move forward.
Individuals who fall into this latter category of survivors are experiencing what’s known as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). To a degree, the following symptoms are normal reactions to a traumatic event. However, if they last for more than three months, are incapacitating in intensity, or disrupt your ability to function at work or at home, PTSD may be to blame.
1. Reliving the Traumatic Event
It’s normal to remember a tragic event. But recurring nightmares, feeling like the event is happening again (flashbacks), or being triggered to have a flashback by a particular sound, sight or smell are symptoms of PTSD.
2. Avoiding Situations for Fear of Triggering a Flashback
Attendees of the Las Vegas country music festival turned tragedy who are experiencing PTSD may avoid large crowds. A soldier whose Humvee was attacked may avoid driving. A near-drowning victim may avoid anything involving water.
3. Drastic Changes in Relationships and Beliefs
A self-described “glass is half full” individual may become pessimistic and negative after experiencing trauma. A once-loving spouse may become cold and distant as he or she grapples with the mental anguish of PTSD.
4. Feeling On Edge and On Guard at All Times
People experiencing PTSD are frequently hyper alert, because they’re always on the lookout for danger. The fight-or-flight instinct is always there. They may change their habits to protect themselves. For example, someone involved in a mass shooting may insist on avoiding restaurant tables that are near windows and make sure they’re aware of all exits in case they need to flee.
5. Mood Changes
Depression, hopelessness, anger and irritability are common in individuals suffering from PTSD. One reason for these mood changes is that PTSD sufferers’ sleep patterns are disrupted by recurring nightmares, and lack of sleep has very real physical manifestations.
If you or a loved one are suffering from PTSD, you know how devastating this illness is. And, make no mistake — PTSD is an illness. With expert treatment, PTSD sufferers can regain control and enjoy their lives again.
At the Crosby Clinic, we have welcomed patients who walked through our doors so exhausted and beaten down by PTSD that they questioned whether they wanted to go on living. Sadly, PTSD substance abuse and suicide attempts are incredibly common among PTSD sufferers who are desperate to quiet their demons. We represent hope that PTSD can be cured. We have witnessed patients achieve extraordinary transformations. We encourage you to contact us today so you or your loved one’s healing journey can beg
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