Male Counselor with pen and pad, facing a stressed young man on a couch.

What are some of the signs you might be suffering with, or that you might be seeing someone close to you suffer with that could be an early indication of PTSD?

According to American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual-V2, in order to be diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder you must exhibit a few different groups of behaviors. Those are intrusion symptoms, avoidance, negative alterations in cognitions and mood, and alterations in arousal and reactivity. And these groups of symptoms are diagnosed by a Psychologist or a Psychiatrist.

Before this diagnosis happens, one might start having difficulty immediately after a particularly traumatic event. These early signs of stress after trauma can be a wide range of behaviors and emotions. The thoughts and emotions can lead to reactionary behaviors that could be considered warning signs that PTSD might be on the horizon. When trying to heal from a traumatic event, understanding how the event has changed your thought process, your emotions and your entire life early following the event is the key to help from developing PTSD. It is important to get help soon after, or get your loved one help soon after the event and if they start to exhibit emotions or behaviors that are not consistent with how they were before the event.

Some signs to look out for:

1- Sleeping Difficulties

2- Anger

3-Numbness and Disconnection

4-Depression

5-Chronic Anxiety

6-Reliving the Trauma

7-Feeling Unsafe

8-Suicidal Thoughts

9-Relationships Changes (person might become more irritable, angry, and have more conflicts in their relationships)

10-Loss of Self Esteem

11-Work Performance Declines

12-Lifestyle Changes (person might stop going to their gym classes, or stop engaging in other hobbies they used to love)

13-New Use (or increased use) of Drugs and Alchohl

Experiencing a traumatic event affects the person it happened to, as well as everyone surrounding this person. It is important to be supportive and loving, and to recognize when someone might not be coping with the event in a healthy manner. It is also important to recognize as a loved one, when you yourself might not be coping with the change in the loved one. Keeping communication open, getting the help that is needed on all accounts, are great first steps before a diagnosis of full fledged Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is considered. To read more about the early signs of PTSD, check out this article at Psychology Today by Jennifer Sweeton PsyD.