The 6 Red Flags That Indicate You Need to Seek Help for PTSD
The symptoms that contribute to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), only received their official definition within standard psychiatry in the 1980s. But the truth is, the condition has been around for much longer. PTSD is the result of an inability or lack of opportunity to process an extraordinary or traumatic event at the time it’s experienced. Or, in other words, it is “an anxiety condition that develops in reaction to physical injury or severe mental or emotional distress.”
For this reason, it is
usually most prevalent in those who’ve served in the armed forces, having taken
a tour of duty in an active warzones – although this isn’t always the case. The
account of Septimus in the modernist classic ‘Mrs Dalloway’ is one such example.
Although a fictionalised account, not only did it portray the symptoms of a battle-scarred
world war one veteran, but also highlighted the misunderstandings around the
PTSD is very different
from a standard stress-based response. You can’t develop PTSD from surprising
or shocking events, because in most instances, we’re able to process them. If
we encounter something that jars the senses, we’re able to talk about it and
thus effect some kind of closure. With extreme and prolonged levels of distress
on the other hand, this outlet can belacking. It forces the experiencer to
suppress their emotions, becoming stuck in a loop of re-experiencing the event
through subtle triggers and subconscious cues that occur weeks, months and even
Although many of the
symptoms of PTSD are quite well known, others are not so apparent and may be
attributed to reasons other the onset of the condition. Here are some of the
key red flags that may indicate an individual may need to seek help. They can
be broken down into the following groups:
For there to be a
reasonable assumption that any stress being experienced is PTSD, it needs to be
linked a traumatic event, which includes the following:
– Direct exposure or involvement in a
– Witnessing a traumatic event.
– Experiencing trauma as a first responder
(police, medic, firefighter, or other emergency services)
Symptoms (One Required)
These form the
majority of recognisable signs of PTSD. The classic examples that may be used
to portray the condition in fictionalised television dramas or other media.
– Intense and disturbing nightmares.
– A heightened sense of distress after being
exposed to known ‘trigger situations.’
and Thought Changes (Two Required)
Changes in mood can
often be hard to attribute to cases of PTSD, given dynamic nature of character.
For this to be considered a symptom, the change needs to be persistent, as
opposed to fleeting. Some examples include:
– The blaming of self or others for their
trauma. (a victimhood mindset)
– An increase in apathy towards interests and
– A negative self-image and outlook on the
– The inability to remember the traumatic
– The feeling of being isolated.
This is characterised
by the need to avoid all instances and situations that may remind the
experiencer of the trauma. These include:
– Avoiding certain situations that may
trigger the memory of the trauma.
– The avoidance of thoughts and emotions,
often through the use of drugs and alcohol.
to Reactivity (Two Required)
Along with intrusion
symptoms, changes in reactivity are potentially the most disruptive symptoms
someone may experience. They can lead to unwanted and uncomfortable situations
for those caught in the middle of them. Some of the most common signs include:
– Aggression or irritability
– Hypervigilance and hyperawareness
– Difficulty concentrating
– Difficulty sleeping
– A heightened response to unexpected
– Engaging in destructive or risky behaviour
– Sleeping Issues, such as insomnia.
Although this list
provides anoverview of what PTSD looks like, it’s
important not to diagnose the problem yourself. Symptoms often overlap in many
mental health conditions, making it hard to determine what the underlying
condition is without the guidance of a professional.
either you or anyone else you know is exhibiting any of these signs, and feel
as though you would like further advice on PTSD, one of our specialists would
be happy to provide you with a FREE 15 MINUTE CONSULTATION.
6 Red Flags for PTSD Patients was last modified: June 13th, 2019 by Dr Becky Spelman
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