If your reaction to traumatic events persists for a period of time, or comes up at least six months after the event, you may have developed post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Not every trauma becomes PTSD. If you have the following symptoms for more than one month, and you are significantly distressed or impaired in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning, proven treatments are available. You may have partial PTSD if you have some of these symptoms, but not enough to qualify for a clinical diagnosis.
1. You have both of the following after a traumatic event:
You experienced, witnessed, or were confronted with event(s) that involved actual or threatened death or serious injury, or a threat to the physical integrity of yourself or others.
Your response involved intense fear, helplessness, or horror, or your perception of the event led to these emotions.
2. You re-experience the event in one or more of the following ways:
You have recurring and intrusive distressing recollections of the event,including images, thoughts, or perceptions.
You have recurring distressing dreams of the event.
You act or feel as if the traumatic event was recurring, and you may have a sense of reliving the experience through illusions, hallucinations, or active flashbacks.
You experience intense psychological distress or bodily reactions when exposed to internal or external cues that symbolize or resemble an aspect of the traumatic event (such as sights, smell, sounds, dates): these are called triggers.
3. You persistently avoid things or events (triggers) associated with the trauma, and numb your response by using three or more of the following:
You make a great effort to avoid thoughts, feelings, or conversations associated with the trauma, or to avoid activities, places, or people that would cause you to remember the trauma.
You can't recall an important aspect of the trauma.
Your interest or participation in activities is much less.
You feel detached or estranged from others.
Your ability to feel emotion is restricted, as is your range of emotions (you feel numb or unable to have loving feelings).
You have a sense of a foreshortened future-you can't see ahead into a far-off future (you do not expect to have a career, marriage, children, or a normal life span).
4. You have two or more of the following symptoms of increased physical arousal that were not present before the trauma. You experience:
Difficulty falling or staying asleep
Irritability or outbursts of anger
Hypervigilance (being overly watchful)
Exaggerated startle response (you're jumpy)
For over 25 years I've been helping trauma survivors experience relief safely, by using therapy methods designed to release the anxiety, depression, pain, and negative beliefs that got stuck in the nervous system at the time of the trauma(s). Symptoms of codependency and adult children of alcoholics syndrome (ACOA) may develop or be much worse as a result of trauma. Some of the gentle healing methods I use include EMDR and Hypnotherapy, which help you clear the trauma and become free from symptoms and triggers.