According to PTSD United, 70% of people in the United States experience a traumatic event at least once in their life. And for up to 20% of those who go through trauma, this event will cause Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Officially recognized as a mental health disorder in 1980, PTSD can be caused by trauma experienced in military combat, assault, abuse, terrorists attacks, natural disasters, and even sudden loss of a loved one.
Though everyone’s body and mind react with a “fight or flight” response during a traumatic event, individuals with PTSD continue to have problems long after the event has passed. It’s possible to treat PTSD with a combination of counseling, therapy, and in some cases medication. Are you struggling, or think you may be struggling, with lingering issues after a traumatic event? Here are some ways PTSD may affect your everyday life:
1. Psychological: PTSD can make you Feel Powerless & Scared
One of the main symptoms of PTSD is a re-experiencing of the traumatic event. This means that images and sensations from the event will come back to you, sometimes without any warning, and impact your life. This can take several forms, including:
- Recurring flashbacks in which you actually feel like the event is occurring once more
- Nightmares where the trauma is relived over again
- Repetitive images or other sensations from the event, including sounds, smells, or feelings.
How may re-experiencing symptoms affect your life? These intrusive thoughts and feelings can make you feel powerless, as each trigger can bring you back to a state where you feel the event is happening all over again.
2. PTSD can Make you Avoid Everyday People, Places, and Things
When it comes to PTSD, many people will start to experience the effects of avoidance in their lives. This means that you will start to actively avoid situations that remind you of the trauma. For example, if you were severely injured in a car accident, you may start to avoid driving or even being in cars. If the traumatic event took place in a certain area, you may feel unable to go near that place. Avoidance can impact your life in a big way as you change your routines of everyday life to work around it.
And it may not just be for physical places: in some cases, avoidance can happen internally as you force yourself to avoid certain thoughts and feelings that cause distress. Avoidance can have a negative effect on your life, causing you to avoid normal situations out of fear.
3. Physical Health: PTSD can Change the Way you Eat, Sleep, and React
In addition to psychological symptoms of re-experiencing and avoidance, many people with PTSD also manifest with physical effects from trauma.
- Experiencing angry outbursts
- Trouble sleeping, eating or concentrating
- Feeling jumpy and on edge
- Becoming easily startled
These physical symptoms may make it more difficult to sleep, concentrate, or even eat or drink normally. You may find yourself prone to jumping easily or lashing out at other people in anger. This can have some major effects on your social life and relationships, as you may react to people you love in anger without really meaning to.
4. Emotional & Mental Effects: PTSD can change your mood
Many people also experience mental effects from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. People with PTSD often have changes in the structure of their brains as a result of the trauma, and can have impacted levels of neurotransmitters like cortisol and norepinephrine (stress hormones). This means you might experience the following:
- Apathy towards events that used to interest you
- Negative thoughts and feelings (about yourself, other people, or the world)
- Loss of memory about the traumatic event, and what surrounded it
- Guilt or blame
The cognitive changes of PTSD can really impact your quality of life, making you feel listless and depressed. You may not be interested in previous hobbies and you may be stuck in a sad or anxious mood that you just can’t shake. In some cases, these mental effects can lead you to feel detached from loved ones and unable to relate to ordinary life.
5. Social effects: PTSD can Make you Feel Alienated and Alone
For many people with PTSD, the symptoms of re-experiencing and avoidance, coupled with cognitive changes and physical symptoms, can create issues with social activities and relationships. You may feel like the people around you have trouble understanding what you’ve gone through, and you might create distance between yourself and others. Or perhaps angry outbursts can alienate you from those you love over time.
It’s important to remember that there’s always hope to recover when it comes to PTSD, and with help, support, and patience, you can combat the effects of this disorder in your everyday life.
Although most people start experiencing the effects of PTSD within three months of the traumatic incident they encountered, for others the symptoms may not manifest for years afterward. If you believe you are suffering from PTSD, or have received a diagnosis in the past, you don’t have to go through this alone. Know that many people have sought help for their symptoms with great success.
Consider making an appointment to speak to a compassionate and knowledgeable counselor. If you want to get started with the healing process with a PTSD Counselor we want to help. Contact us at Real Life Counseling to get started on the path toward healing.