Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) can develop in people after a trauma experience. PTSD is a mental-health condition that affects many people who have gone through an extremely frightening and/or life-threatening event. If you’re suffering from PTSD, you probably are reliving this event over and over. You are most likely staying away from the people and places that trigger memories of the traumatic event. It’s not unusual to feel numb after such an experience. Overall, you may find it very difficult to relax because you’re on guard all the time and every little thing seems to startle you. These are all typical symptoms of PTSD.
Guilt & Shame
It is not at all unusual for people to blame themselves after a trauma event. They somehow blame themselves for what happened and feel guilty for surviving or for not being able to save others. If you are a survivor of a traumatic event, you may be carrying guilt for what happened, what you did or should have done or did not do. You may be playing this over and over in your head. It’s human nature to blame ourselves, we are sometimes our worst critics, but in most cases the guilt and shame you’re feeling is misplaced. In all likelihood you could have not done anything to prevent what happened.
When you’re depressed you spend most days feeling sad, sorry for yourself and basically down. Depression causes you to lose interest in activities you normally enjoy and have fun doing. After a trauma event you will probably feel lethargic and more tired than usual. Often you will feel a sense of hopelessness and possibly despair, thinking that things are never going to return to normal. When people experience the loss or death of a family member or close friend, they commonly fall into depression. In this state people sometimes contemplate hurting or even killing themselves. PTSD and depression frequently co-occur. This is why it is vitally important to seek help for depression.
Thoughts of Suicide
When someone has gone through a traumatic experience and/or suffered a terrible loss their depression can drive them into thoughts of hurting themselves or even taking their life. PTSD and suicide are known to co-occur. If you know someone who may be depressed and contemplating suicide, you have got to ask them directly if they are thinking of committing suicide. This is NOT going to give them the idea, but it may save their life because if the answer is “yes” you can make sure they are not left alone and get the help they need.
Anger and/or Aggression
A traumatic experience can lead to anger in a number of different ways. After a trauma event, people often start thinking about how unfair it was that this happened to them, how unjust. You can understand how this could escalate into feelings of anger, not understanding how this could happen or why it happened to them. Although this is understandable and anger is a natural emotion, when anger becomes so intense that it turns into aggression then it becomes a problem. When you take your anger out on friends, family and/or coworkers this just makes everything worse. If it escalates into violence and someone gets hurt, there will certainly be legal repercussions. This is why it is essential to get help before things get out of hand.
Alcohol and/or Drug Abuse
After a trauma experience it becomes tempting to “self-medicate” with alcohol and/or drugs, in fact this is fairly common. Alcohol and drugs are used as a coping mechanism, an attempt to escape from how you feel in the wake of the traumatic event. By drinking and/or using drugs you can become numb to the memories, feelings and thoughts that keep haunting you after a trauma experience. You may feel better temporarily, but in the long run it will cause more problems. PTSD and substance abuse have high rates of co-occurrence. If you know someone in this situation, you should do everything you can to get him or her to see their doctor so they can take control of their drinking and/or drug use.
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