By Anna Raab, Abundant Living Neurofeedback and Counseling
“I’m so triggered!” is a statement I started hearing my teenagers say a couple years ago, usually in a joking manner. However, PTSD is no laughing matter and affects many people who aren’t even aware that their symptoms are trauma related. In addition, many people do not know that the onset of PTSD can occur within a few months or even years after a traumatic event, which can make it very difficult for individuals to pinpoint.
As a result, patients may present with severe anxiety, depression, attention or sleep issues and not even relate these issues to the original trauma. I have had many patients present with these types of issues only to discover that they are actually part of a syndrome perpetuated by a traumatic, or series of traumatic events.
Traumatic events that lead to PTSD are typically events that instill a sense of intense fear, helplessness, or terror. Moreover, PTSD can be caused by witnessing such an event happening to another person and in some cases simply by hearing about such an event occurring. In the context of our modern world, with endless news about violence and murder, I believe this is a more widespread problem than has been previously understood.
I have treated many patients who were first hand victims, but I have also treated multiple people who developed PTSD by merely being exposed to the knowledge of trauma. Not surprisingly, none of the individuals were aware of the root cause until we began to track the onset of traumatic symptoms and frequent triggers.
So, what are the symptoms of PTSD? Many of the symptoms may be surprising and seemingly unrelated. You or a loved one may be affected and unaware. For instance, physical pain can be a symptom of PTSD. Headaches, digestive Issues, physical pain and a weakened immune system can all be warning signs. More common are issues of hyper-arousal, which include insomnia, edginess, being easily startled, panic attacks, or generally finding it impossible to relax. Having excessive emotions, angry, irritable outbursts, or being emotionally shut down are also symptomatic.
Some people may begin to avoid any semblance of places or people who consciously or subconsciously remind them of trauma. They may have generalized anxiety, depression or guilt that do not seem to connect to their actual life. Others may have overwhelming obsessive thoughts, not only of trauma happening to them but even seeing themselves become perpetrators of things they’ve seen or witnessed.
Memory problems are extremely common, not only having gaps in memory but developing general, wide-spread memory lapses. Many of these symptoms can lead to severe attention deficits that are often misdiagnosed. Sadly, some people turn to addictive behaviors to try to self-regulate and may find themselves completely out of control.
If you recognize yourself or a loved one in this article, please reach out. I have helped so many people who have become captive to a traumatized brain. You don’t have to be captive any longer.