Trauma Symptoms in Survivors With PTSD

Mar 12, 2010 No Comments by

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is an anxiety disorder which can manifest after an individual witnesses or survives a life-threatening event. The overwhelming psychological trauma involved leads to difficulties in memory processing, allowing the experience to resurface as if it were recurring in the present. The trauma symptoms in survivors of PTSD range from flashbacks and nightmares to depression and panic attacks, making daily life a challenge for many survivors suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Trauma Symptoms and Chemical Dependency in Patients With PTSD

Trauma symptoms in survivors with PTSD can put them at higher risk for drug and alcohol abuse, in an effort to cope with the pain and agony of the engulfing trauma, as well. Many trauma survivors find relief from chemical dependency issues in holistic drug and alcohol rehabilitation facilities equipped to handle the psychological and physical needs of traumatized individuals through a round, integrated approach.

Trauma Symptoms in Survivors With PTSD

In general, trauma symptoms in PTSD survivors can be summarized by 17 key signs. PTSD trauma symptoms can be grouped into three clusters—reexperiencing, avoidance, and hyperarousal—and generally persist for more than a month, having a profound effect on the survivor’s social relationships, carerer, and personal life.

  • Symptoms of Re-experiencing TraumaThese five PTSD symptoms crop up when the trauma resurfaces, causing the survivor to re-experience the traumatic event. Often, these trauma responses are brought on by everyday situations and objects that “trigger” memories of the traumatic incident. Symptoms can include:
    • “Flashbacks” that cause the survivor to believe the event is happening in the present time.
    • “Intrusive” thoughts that persist with images and memories of the event, despite best efforts to block the experience out or “change the subject” mentally.
    • Intense psychological distress when triggers remind you of the traumatic experience.
    • Physiological responses such as a racing heart, freezing, sweating or running when experiencing cues that resemble the traumatic event.
    • Persistent and recurrent nightmares about the traumatic event.
  • Symptoms of Trauma AvoidanceThese seven symptoms center around avoidant behaviors in attempts to cope with traumatic events and establish safety. The survivor will often avoid certain subjects, locations, and experiences because they remind them of the traumatic event.
    • Avoiding thoughts, feelings, and discussions associated with the traumatic experience.
    • Avoiding locations and people that potentially remind you of the trauma.
    • Experiencing memory difficulties, and trouble remembering important details of the trauma.
    • Avoidance of activities and hobbies that once were enjoyable, due to fear inspired by the trauma.
    • Feelings of depersonalization and derealization, including emotional distance, detachment, dreamlike states or alienation from others.
    • Flat or limited emotional affect, making it difficult to experience positive feelings like love or happiness.
    • Beliefs in decreased longevity due to life-threatening experiences, causing avoidance of career, marriage, or family planning.
  • Symptoms of Trauma Triggered HyperarousalThese five symptoms of hyperarousal tend to be persistent, cause anger or stress, and make it difficult for survivors to normally and peacefully engage in daily tasks.
    • Marked difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep at night, or sleeping with the lights on.
    • Experiencing high levels of irritability, and being prone to hair-trigger bursts of anger.
    • Difficulty accessing short-term memory, and difficulties with concentration and cognitive abilities.
    • Feeling hypervigilant, as if one has to constantly be on guard for danger headed their way.
    • An exaggerated “startle response,” making the survivor jump, run, or verbally react when loud noises, unexpected gestures, or other sensory experiences occur suddenly.
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