How Do I Know If I Have PTSD | Screenings, Resources, & PTSD Awareness MonthPat Fontana
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is usually associated with military veterans. While it is true that PTSD is often a result of war or combat, there are also many other causes that affect people from all walks of life. June is PTSD Awareness Month and, as you are suffering through the stressful effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, you may be wondering, “How do I know if I have PTSD?”
What is PTSD
The American Psychiatric Association (APA) defines PTSD as “a psychiatric disorder that can occur in people who have experienced or witnessed a traumatic event such as a natural disaster, a serious accident, a terrorist act, war/combat, rape or other violent personal assault.” The term is closely linked to military language. The disorder was referred to as “shell shock” during World War I and “combat fatigue” after World War II.
However, PTSD also occurs in non-military individuals. In fact, PTSD affects approximately 3.5 percent of U.S. adults, and an estimated one in 11 people will be diagnosed PTSD in their lifetime. Women are twice as likely as men to have PTSD.
Why do some people develop PTSD after a traumatic event when others may not have the same reaction? PTSD can occur as a result of being a part of or witnessing a car accident, an act of violence such as a shooting, a natural disaster, or abuse or neglect, among other incidents. Virtually everyone will develop some symptoms of PTSD immediately following such trauma, but some people continue to have issues for months or years afterwards.
Health professionals think that people with PTSD have abnormally high levels of stress hormones, which are released during traumatic events. These high amounts of hormones could be the cause of extended PTSD symptoms. Risk factors may also include having a history of mental health disorder, such as panic disorder or depression, and having little support from loved ones after the event.
When you are wondering, “how do I know if I have PTSD,” you should pay attention to any symptoms you may be experiencing. The APA explains that symptoms of PTSD can cause significant distress or problems functioning. In addition, PTSD often occurs with other related conditions, such as depression, substance use, memory problems, and other physical and mental health problems.
Symptoms can include intrusive thoughts such as repeated, involuntary memories and distressing dreams. You may also experience disturbing flashbacks of the traumatic event. When you have these flashbacks, you may actually feel as though you are reliving the event itself.
You may find that you are going out of your way to avoid reminders of the event, including avoiding the people, places, activities, and objects that bring on your memories. You may try to push the incident out of your mind so that you won’t remember or think about it. You may also resist talking to anyone about the incident or about how it makes you feel now.
Another symptom of PTSD manifests in negative thoughts about yourself or others. For example, you may be thinking that no one can be trusted now because of your continued fear, anger, or shame. You might feel detached from others and not interested in engaging with anyone else socially.
Have you noticed that you are prone to angry outbursts or irritability? These are also symptoms of PTSD. In addition, symptoms include behaving recklessly or in a self-destructive manner, being easily startled, or having problems sleeping or concentrating.
If you recognize some of these symptoms and have experienced a traumatic event, you can be screened to determine whether your condition is truly PTSD. There are a number of self-screenings available, in addition to screenings conducted by health professionals.
Brainline, a national multimedia project offering authoritative information and support to anyone whose life has been affected by brain injury or PTSD, hosts a self-screening questionnaire that encourages you to talk further with a mental health professional about your symptoms. Likewise, the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA) offers an online screening tool that should be shared with a healthcare professional so you can get the help you need for your PTSD.
These organizations also offer resources for you to be able to answer that lingering question, “how do I know if I have PTSD?” and to get appropriate support. The PTSD Alliance lists helpful resources as well, including links to 24-hour hotlines.
The professional psychotherapists at R&A Therapeutic Partners are also available resources for you as you work through coping with past trauma. We understand your challenges and know that when you participate in appropriate counseling, you will learn how to handle the ongoing impact of trauma in your life.
Contact R&A Therapeutic Partners During PTSD Awareness Month
We understand that life can be overwhelming. Particularly as you are experiencing the traumatic effects of COVID-19, you may be wondering if you have PTSD and what you can do about it. At R&A Therapeutic Partners, we continue to support you and your mental health and coping needs, helping you find the path that works best for you. We also provide telehealth options during COVID-19. We encourage you to contact the Miami therapeutic consultants Raymond Estefania and Ana Moreno to find out the services R&A Therapeutic Partners offers. Call us at 786-452-7352 to schedule your appointment.
At R&A Therapeutic Partners Raymond Estefania and Ana Moreno specialize in substance use and mental health disorder evaluations, treatment, intervention and therapeutic/educational consulting for clients throughout the greater South Florida area, as well as nationally and internationally. For more resources and information please visit Therapeutic-Partners.com or on Facebook.