When we first think about what PTSD really is, we usually think about what Hollywood has portrayed PTSD as for years: veterans having flashbacks of gunshots, explosions, and soldiers crawling through the jungle. For some this may be the case, but PTSD is much more varied. PTSD—Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder—is defined as a medical disorder that can occur from anytime right after the triggering incident or several years afterwards. Symptoms of PTSD include recall of the event or avoiding situations that might recall it. The fear of participating in social situations that might trigger a PTSD episode can lead to anxiety, irritability, social isolation, and flashbacks. One major misconception on PTSD is that it only affects veterans, however PTSD can affect anyone, veteran or not, young or old.
PTSD has a large range of intensity, but some common symptoms can help identify if you potentially have PTSD. Major symptoms include:
- Irritability, agitation, and overall increase of abrasiveness
- Anxiety and flashbacks
- Loss of normal interests
- Negativity or cynicism
- Lack of sleep, insomnia, nightmares and night terrors
- Social isolation
People experiencing PTSD can experience any wide range of symptoms. Military veterans are especially vulnerable to experiencing PTSD. 1/3 of soldiers returning from war receive a diagnosis of PTSD, however the true number of veterans is higher because of the fact that only 40% of veterans seek treatment for their symptoms due to lack of medical access, fear of losing security clearance, and the social stigma of PTSD. living with PTSD can have several dangerous residual effects including strain on personal and romantic relationships and the loss of personal interests.
You don’t have to accept your PTSD as normal. If you or a loved one is going through any of these signs and symptoms, call the Institute for Advanced Medical Research at 770-817-9200.