PTSD, or post-traumatic stress disorder, is a mental disorder that affects people who have experienced or witnessed a terrifying event, such as sexual violence, war conflicts, natural disasters and accidents. There are many warning signs of PTSD including depression, irritability and aggression.
This article provides advice on how to tell if someone you care about has PTSD and how you can help if they do.
How to spot PTSD warning signs
The main sign that someone might be suffering from PTSD is the increase in either the frequency or intensity of their negative emotions. If someone you know begins to feel depressed much more frequently than normal, this might just be them trying to cope with what happened earlier or it could be evidence that something even worse has happened in their lives. Note that there are certain situations, such as after a car accident or an assault, where someone might be experiencing terrible emotions related to the event. Once these emotions start to fade, it becomes clear whether they are dealing with PTSD or not. It is important to recognize the difference between temporary and permanent depression because people can recover from temporary depression but often face a longer recovery process for PTSD.
If someone does not remember what happened or has become confused about important details, this could be an indication of PTSD. A person suffering from PTSD may also refuse to talk about certain issues with you, which may be due to the fact that they are too overwhelmed by their condition to cope with them properly. It is also common for them to lash out in anger at innocent people or situations that go unnoticed by others.
People with PTSD also tend to have trouble sleeping due to nightmares or insomnia. In extreme cases, they may have trouble with concentration and memory. They may also start drinking unbeknownst to anyone. It is also common for people with PTSD to feel irritable and aggressive due to the stress of their condition; however, this does not necessarily mean that they are suffering from an underlying disorder such as anxiety or depression. Some people report sleep problems like insomnia and nightmares without any of the other warning signs of PTSD, so it is important to seek professional help if you notice any of these changes in your loved ones.
Another sign that someone might be suffering from PTSD is if they are having trouble keeping up with their responsibilities. For example, they may have stopped attending classes in college, quit their jobs without much warning or stopped making any friends or visiting their loved ones. It is important to understand that this difficulty in keeping up with what used to be simple everyday tasks might just be a side effect of PTSD rather than a permanent change in character.
How to help people with PTSD
While it is important to stay aware of the signs and symptoms of PTSD, it is also important to understand that these symptoms might fade over time. It may be a good idea to check in on your loved one every day or every week if possible, especially if you do not notice any changes within a couple of months after the onset of their condition. Discussing their condition with them can help them feel supported and remind them that you care about their well-being.
It is also important to understand that not every change they experience is related to PTSD. Some people report changes in their mind, often without any warning, which can blur their judgment and make it hard for them to learn from mistakes, pay attention or focus on things at the same time. It is important to understand that these shifts in character are normal after a traumatic event and they are not necessarily related to PTSD.
Finally, talk with them about seeking help. While it is important to understand that people with PTSD need time to recover on their own, they may not be aware of the extent of their condition due to changes in their mind. If you notice signs of PTSD in your loved ones, try to bring up their condition by pointing out specific examples or events that made them feel uncomfortable. Discuss with them the benefits of seeking professional help and encourage them to at least explore their options.
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