This is the first post in a series about PTSD, complex PTSD, and medical PTSD. To start with, I’m going to talk about symptoms and basics.
PTSD, or post-traumatic stress disorder, can occur in response to a traumatic event or repeated trauma. Symptoms can start from days to years after the original event, and can last for years. They can affect people differently, and can include intrusive thoughts, a desire to avoid reminders of the traumatic incident(s), negative thoughts and feelings, arousal and reactive symptoms, and cognition and mood symptoms, amongst others.
Intrusive thoughts include flashbacks, bad dreams, and frightening thoughts. For me, flashbacks are like memories that come up that I can’t control or make go away. I have a visual memory, so I will ‘see’ the event or features of the event in my mind, almost as if they are real and happening now. Frightening thoughts are especially prevalent when I am triggered, or actively experiencing symptoms, and will include things like thinking I am not safe or that someone is going to hurt me.
Avoidance symptoms are like they sound. Certain situations or places will remind me (usually subconsciously) of a traumatic situation and trigger symptoms. As a result, I will stay away from the situation or place in the future if I can. Unfortunately, with medical PTSD this means I avoid going to the doctor or ER, even when I need to.
Negative thoughts and feelings come up when I am triggered, and will include thinking things like “what’s the point,” or “why fight to keep going,” even if I was completely happy right before the flare.
Arousal symptoms mean that I am easily startled ALL the time, and I have a lot of trouble sleeping. Outbursts and feeling tense are others, and symptoms are often constant.
Cognition and mood symptoms can include trouble remembering the event and/or negative feelings like guilt and blame.
These are considered the major symptoms, though one can have many more. This also ignores the physical effects PTSD can have on the body. Next time I will talk about how PTSD is diagnosed.
For more info on the book I am writing on medical PTSD, visit: