3 Ways to Recognize Post-traumatic Stress Disorder

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3 Ways to Recognize Post-traumatic Stress Disorder
3 Ways to Recognize Post-traumatic Stress Disorder

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a psychological condition that occurs when you experience danger or a terrible event. During the event, you may be under automatic control or “fight or flight” mode to defend yourself. However, for people with PTSD, the "fight or flight" reaction doesn't go away because even though it's been a long time, they will continue to feel the effects of experiencing danger. To find out if you or a loved one has PTSD, learn about some of the signs of PTSD which will be explained further in this article.


Method 1 of 3: Determining the Risk of PTSD

Tell if You Have PTSD Step 1
Tell if You Have PTSD Step 1

Step 1. Know what PTSD means

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental disorder that occurs when you experience a terrifying or catastrophic event. After experiencing trauma, it's normal to feel negative emotions, such as confusion, sadness, irritation, hopelessness, sadness, and so on. Psychological reactions like this are common in people who face traumatic situations and will go away on their own. However, for people with PTSD, these emotional reactions are actually getting worse, rather than disappearing.

PTSD tends to occur if you experience a terrifying or life-threatening event. The longer you are exposed to trauma, the more likely you are to develop PTSD

Tell if You Have PTSD Step 2
Tell if You Have PTSD Step 2

Step 2. Don't deny PTSD symptoms just because you're not in the military

Because PTSD has long been associated with war veterans, many people who are not involved in combat fail to recognize the symptoms of PTSD they are experiencing. If you've recently experienced a traumatic, horrific, or hurtful event, you may have PTSD. In addition, PTSD occurs not only in people who are victims of experiencing life-threatening events themselves. Sometimes, when you witness a frightening event or have to face the consequences, you may also experience PTSD.

  • In general, events that trigger PTSD are rape, gun threats, natural disasters, sudden loss of loved ones, car or plane accidents, assault, war, or witnessing murder.
  • Be aware that many people with PTSD develop this disorder because of the actions of others, rather than natural disasters.
Tell if You Have PTSD Step 3
Tell if You Have PTSD Step 3

Step 3. Determine how long you have been experiencing the stressful event

As explained above, it is normal to experience negative feelings after experiencing a frightening event. For several weeks afterward, the condition is called acute stress disorder. However, these negative feelings usually go away on their own after a few weeks. PTSD becomes a problem when after a month has passed, the negative feelings just get worse.

Tell if You Have PTSD Step 4
Tell if You Have PTSD Step 4

Step 4. Be aware of the risk factors that make you susceptible to PTSD

Two people experienced exactly the same thing, but one had PTSD and the other didn't. There are several factors that make a person more likely to develop PTSD after experiencing a traumatic event. Keep in mind that not everyone will develop PTSD, even if they have the following factors:

  • A history of psychological problems in the family. The risk of developing PTSD is higher if a family member has an anxiety disorder or depression.
  • How to respond to stress. Stress is normal, but there are people whose bodies produce more chemicals and hormones that cause abnormal reactions to stress.
  • Another experience. If you've experienced other trauma, such as childhood abuse or feel neglected, the new trauma will increase the fear you've experienced, leading to PTSD.

Method 2 of 3: Determining the Presence of PTSD Symptoms

Tell if You Have PTSD Step 5
Tell if You Have PTSD Step 5

Step 1. Realize if you want to dodge

When experiencing a traumatic event, you may want to avoid anything that brings back memories of the traumatic experience. However, the best way to deal with trauma is to expose yourself to the memories that arise. People with PTSD will usually try to avoid anything that will bring back their memories of the traumatic experience, for example by:

  • Try not to think about the situation anymore.
  • Stay away from people, places, or objects that remind you of the traumatic event.
  • Refuse to talk about what happened to them.
  • Try to find a distraction so that you become obsessed with the activity, instead of dwelling on past events.
Tell if You Have PTSD Step 6
Tell if You Have PTSD Step 6

Step 2. Watch for painful memories to arise

Painful memories are memories that you can't control because they suddenly occur without you telling them to. This makes you feel helpless and unable to stop it. Painful memories usually appear in the form of::

  • Suddenly remembering the traumatic event vividly again.
  • Nightmares that focus on what happened.
  • Imagine again every traumatic event like looking at photos that appear sequentially and you can't stop.
Tell if You Have PTSD Step 7
Tell if You Have PTSD Step 7

Step 3. Ask yourself if you want to deny what happened

People with PTSD respond to traumatic experiences by denying that the event ever happened. They will act casually as if there has never been a big problem in their life. This is a way of dealing with severe shocks and protecting themselves because the mind will suppress painful memories and try to understand what happened to protect their bodies from suffering.

For example, a mother who denies that her baby is dead will continue to talk to her child as if she were sleeping and cannot accept the fact that she is dead

Tell if You Have PTSD Step 8
Tell if You Have PTSD Step 8

Step 4. Monitor any changes in thinking

It's normal to change your perspective, but people with PTSD will see people, places, and things differently than they did before the trauma. Some changes in the way they think they experience, for example:

  • Think negatively about other people, places, situations, and yourself.
  • Feeling indifferent or hopeless when thinking about their future.
  • Inability to feel happiness or pleasure; experience numbness.
  • Inability or very difficulty establishing and maintaining relationships with others.
  • Difficulty remembering, ranging from forgetting the little things to not being able to remember important things about a traumatic experience that has happened.
Tell if You Have PTSD Step 9
Tell if You Have PTSD Step 9

Step 5. Notice if there have been any emotional or physical changes since you experienced the traumatic event

As with changes in mindset, observe whether there have been emotional and physical changes since you experienced the traumatic event. These changes are normal, but make sure you pay attention to changes that are constantly happening, for example:

  • Insomnia (can't sleep at night).
  • Loss of appetite.
  • Easily angered or irritated and aggressive.
  • Loss of interest in activities you used to enjoy.
  • Very depressed because of excessive guilt or shame.
  • Exhibits self-injurious behavior, such as driving at very high speeds, taking drugs, making reckless or high-risk decisions.
Tell if You Have PTSD Step 10
Tell if You Have PTSD Step 10

Step 6. Watch for the appearance of over-vigilance

After experiencing a horrific or traumatic event, you are likely to feel very anxious or restless. Things that normally don't cause you fear, now make you panic. Traumatic experiences make your body always in a high alert that is not really needed, but this condition feels necessary because of the trauma you have experienced.

For example, the experience of being at the site of a bomb explosion makes you want to run or panic if you hear the sound of someone dropping a key or slamming a door

Tell if You Have PTSD Step 11
Tell if You Have PTSD Step 11

Step 7. Consult a mental health professional with experience helping trauma victims

A psychologist or therapist will be able to determine whether you are responding appropriately to a traumatic event or are experiencing PTSD. In addition, they can help you decide on the most appropriate therapy for your condition, for example by choosing the following therapies for PTSD:

  • Therapy by telling a traumatic experience has been shown to be effective in dealing with PTSD symptoms or helping PTSD sufferers cope with problems in their family or work caused by this disorder.
  • Psychotherapy that involves re-talking about the traumatic event, visiting places and/or people you avoided, or attending inoculation training enables you to cope with events that trigger stress or anxiety.
  • A psychiatrist may prescribe medication to relieve symptoms of depression, anxiety, or treat sleep disorders.

Method 3 of 3: Knowing the Conditions Associated with PTSD

Tell if You Have PTSD Step 12
Tell if You Have PTSD Step 12

Step 1. Watch for signs of depression

Living after a traumatic event tends to lead to depression. People who experience PTSD usually also experience depression which is indicated by the following symptoms:

  • Difficulty concentrating.
  • Feeling guilty, helpless, and inferior.
  • Reduced energy and loss of interest in the things that normally make you happy.
  • Feeling very sad that is difficult to overcome and loses the meaning of life.
Tell if You Have PTSD Step 13
Tell if You Have PTSD Step 13

Step 2. Notice if you feel anxious

People who experience terrible or frightening events usually feel anxious. Anxiety is more severe than the stress or worry that often appears in everyday life. Signs of anxiety are:

  • Always worried or obsessed with any problem or issue, both important and unimportant.
  • Feeling restless or unable to relax.
  • Easily startled or always tense and nervous.
  • Trouble sleeping and feeling like you are suffocating.
Tell if You Have PTSD Step 14
Tell if You Have PTSD Step 14

Step 3. Watch for tendencies toward obsessive-compulsive behavior

After experiencing an event that disturbs the peace of life, people will usually try to get their lives back to normal. However, there are those who wish to remedy the situation by controlling their environment excessively. Obsessive-compulsive behavior can appear in a variety of ways, but to determine whether you are behaving obsessive-compulsively, observe the following:

  • Wash your hands many times for fear that your hands are still dirty or will be contaminated.
  • Checked repeatedly to make sure everything was ok. For example, checking ten times the oven is turned off or checking the door is locked.
  • Very obsessed with order. You become very fond of counting and tidying things up to make it look symmetrical and neat.
  • Storing things for fear that something bad will happen if you throw them away.
Tell if You Have PTSD Step 15
Tell if You Have PTSD Step 15

Step 4. Tell someone if you are hallucinating

Hallucinations are events that you experience through your five senses, but don't actually happen. For example, hearing a sound that has no source, seeing something that is not real, tasting or smelling something that is only your imagination, feeling touched, but no one touching you. A person who experiences hallucinations will have difficulty distinguishing between fantasy and reality.

  • One way to determine if you are hallucinating or not is to ask the people around you if they are experiencing the same thing.
  • Be aware that hallucinations can be a sign of an undiagnosed psychotic disorder, such as PTSD-triggered schizophrenia. Researchers have found that the two mental disorders overlap. Seek help as soon as possible if you see or hear something that makes you doubt your existence.
Tell if You Have PTSD Step 16
Tell if You Have PTSD Step 16

Step 5. Get professional help if you think you may have amnesia

When experiencing a traumatic event, our body will erase the memory of the incident to protect itself from suffering. Amnesia can occur because you are trying to suppress and deny a traumatic incident that has happened. If you're suddenly starting to forget details in your life or feel like time is passing by, but don't remember doing anything, talk to a therapist or talk to someone you trust.


Share a terrible experience you had with someone you trust. This will help you let go of any painful feelings or negative emotions caused by the experience


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