PTSD is a disorder that develops in some people who have experienced a shocking, scary, or dangerous event. It is natural to feel afraid during and after a traumatic situation. Fear triggers many split-second changes in the body to help defend against danger or to avoid it. This “fight-or-flight” response is a typical reaction meant to protect a person from harm. Nearly everyone will experience a range of reactions after trauma, yet most people recover from initial symptoms naturally. Those who continue to experience problems may be diagnosed with PTSD. People who have PTSD may feel stressed or frightened even when they are not in danger.
I learned last month that my diagnosis of Bipolar Disorder was incorrect. According to my current shrink, I suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, which added to my general depression and unspecified anxiety makes for a troublesome day to day life. I had been told by 3 previous doctors that I did not have Bipolar Disorder, and I cannot understand how or why that one particular psychiatrist gave me this diagnosis. She had even prescribed medications used in the treatment of Bipolar Disorder but I never took it because there were certain side effects that I felt were hazardous.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, to be diagnosed with PTSD, an adult must have all of the following for at least 1 month:
At least one re-experiencing symptom
At least one avoidance symptom
At least two arousal and reactivity symptoms
At least two cognition and mood symptoms
Re-experiencing symptoms include: flashbacks—reliving the trauma over and over, including physical symptoms like a racing heart or sweating; bad dreams; frightening thoughts
Re-experiencing symptoms may cause problems in a person’s everyday routine. The symptoms can start from the person’s own thoughts and feelings. Words, objects, or situations that are reminders of the event can also trigger re-experiencing symptoms.
‘Avoidance symptoms include: staying away from places, events, or objects that are reminders of the traumatic experience; avoiding thoughts or feelings related to the traumatic event.
Things that remind a person of the traumatic event can trigger avoidance symptoms. These symptoms may cause a person to change his or her personal routine. For example, after a bad car accident, a person who usually drives may avoid driving or riding in a car.
Arousal and reactivity symptoms include: being easily startled; feeling tense or “on edge”; having difficulty sleeping; having angry outbursts.
Arousal symptoms are usually constant, instead of being triggered by things that remind one of the traumatic events. These symptoms can make the person feel stressed and angry. They may make it hard to do daily tasks, such as sleeping, eating, or concentrating.
Cognition and mood symptoms include: trouble remembering key features of the traumatic event; negative thoughts about oneself or the world; distorted feelings like guilt or blame; loss of interest in enjoyable activities.
Unfortunately, I suffer from many of the symptoms and now I realize had I been diagnosed properly in the first place, it would have saved me a great deal of grief. Growing up and witnessing physical, verbal, and emotional abuse, severe alcoholism, drug addiction, nearly becoming the victim of rape twice, being stalked online a couple of times. almost dying by my own hand on several occasions and being in a relationship with a man who has too many problems himself, has made my illnesses worse and now the only ways I can bring myself out of the darkness are with medication and psychotherapy. I am quite a strong person and I know I’ll triumph over this, but right now I need all the help I can get. If you have PTSD, you’re not alone, I’m with you and I will update this blog to give you much-needed support, suggestions, and friendly advice. Peace!