If you’ve ever been through something dangerous, shocking, extremely unsafe or life-threatening, there is a need for you to look out for the following silent signs of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
This is an intense experience of thoughts, feelings, behaviours, and physical sensations resulting from the traumatic event. The body’s chemical reaction to the trauma can put the person experiencing it in extreme survival mode know as “fight or flight”.
When in a state of fight or flight—or “freeze” when you become immobilized by fear—you feel completely out of control and this is very painful and scary. You may find that you get easily overwhelmed or worked up and can’t calm down, or can’t fall asleep at night.
This is the experience of persistent intrusive thoughts and feelings about the event—and sometimes, it may be unrelated but disturbing in nature. The more it plays, the more distressed you become, because you are constantly reliving the trauma.
The problem is that you don’t know how to turn it ‘off’, and the more it repeats, the worse you feel. Essentially, it feels like you are out of control of your own mind.
This could manifest as flashbacks or nightmares, or feeling like you are re-experiencing or reliving the fear from the event that triggered your PTSD when you encounter everyday triggers around you that remind you of something that has to do with the event. There is also a need to keep an eye out for sudden mood changes.
PTSD can actually manifest itself as depression or anxiety, or mood changes that make you feel low, high, sad, angry, upset, for ‘seemingly’ no reason. This could be a less immediately recognizable sign that a person is really suffering.
It is common to try and steer clear of anything that could continue to trigger the persistent thoughts and feelings relating to your traumatic experience. One of the most common themes associated with this phenomenon is the desire to avoid any people, places, or objects that cause us fear and pain.
It’s a very normal response to an abnormal experience. Especially when you are in survival mode. You don’t want to continue to experience the pain.
When someone experiences a potentially traumatic event, it is likely that person did not have much control over the situation or the fact this event occurred. When you find yourself feeling confident and in control of your lives and circumstances, you tend to feel better in general.
People will often attempt to engage in risky behaviours to recreate similar circumstances, or feelings and experiences related to the original trauma so they can regain a sense of control with the hope that the outcome will be different than the original experience.