Identifying PTSD Symptoms and Examples


Imagine your brain is like a supercomputer, smoothly processing everyday experiences. But what happens when it encounters a virus in the form of a traumatic event?

This is the point at which Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) enters the picture, a mental health disorder ignited by a horrifying incident, causing the brain to replay these distressing moments like a broken record.

It's not just a soldier's battle; anyone can be affected, from survivors of car crashes to natural disasters - it's like a scary movie that keeps playing in your head.

Understanding PTSD is like being a good tech geek for our own minds; it helps us ensure optimal mental health performance and enhances the quality of life.

Let's dive into the world of PTSD, unmask its mysteries, and learn how to hit the 'reset' button on that stuck record!

Trauma & PTSD Counselors

Sydnee Wheeler, LPCC

Sydnee Wheeler, LPCC

Aurora, Colorado
(720) 449-4121
Marie Whatley LPCC

Marie Whatley LPCC

(719) 345-2424
Laura Hunt, LPC

Laura Hunt, LPC

(719) 452-4374
Kelsey Maestas, LPCC

Kelsey Maestas, LPCC

Pueblo, Colorado
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Michele Stahle, LPC

Michele Stahle, LPC

(719) 345-2424
Jessica Titone, LPCC

Jessica Titone, LPCC

(720) 437-9089
Katie (Kate) Castillo, MS, LPCC

Katie (Kate) Castillo, MS, LPCC

Colorado Springs, Colorado
(719) 345-2424
Bethany Cantrell, LPC

Bethany Cantrell, LPC

Colorado Springs, Colorado
(719) 602-1342
Brenda Hermosillo, SWC

Brenda Hermosillo, SWC

(720) 449-4121
Noah Suess, MA, LPC

Noah Suess, MA, LPC

Colorado Springs, Colorado
(719) 481-3518

Common Symptoms of PTSD

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is characterized by four main types of symptoms: intrusive memories, avoidance, negative changes in thinking and mood, and changes in physical and emotional reactions.

Each of these symptom types is unique and can manifest differently in each individual, making PTSD a complex condition to understand and diagnose.

Intrusive memories refer to recurrent, unwanted and distressing memories of the traumatic event.

This might include severe emotional distress or physical reactions to something that reminds one of the trauma.

Avoidance is another symptom where the individual makes an effort to avoid thoughts, feelings, or conversations about the traumatic event.

They may also avoid places, people, or activities that remind them of the trauma.

Negative changes in thinking and mood often involve negative feelings about oneself or others, hopelessness about the future, memory problems, difficulty maintaining close relationships, and feeling detached from family and friends.

Finally, alterations in physical and emotional responses can manifest as heightened startle responses, engaging in self-harming behaviors, difficulties with sleep or focus, and feelings of extreme guilt or shame.

These symptoms can vary in intensity over time and can be triggered by reminders of the traumatic event. 

Misconceptions about PTSD

One common misconception about PTSD is that it only affects war veterans or individuals who have experienced extreme forms of violence.

While it's true that PTSD can result from experiences in a war zone, the disorder can also develop after any type of traumatic event, including natural disasters, car accidents, physical or sexual abuse, or even sudden and major life changes.

A study published in the Journal of Anxiety Disorders found that the most common trauma resulting in PTSD was the unexpected death of a loved one, not combat experience.

Another widespread myth is that individuals with PTSD are dangerous or unstable. This stereotype can often lead to stigmatization and discrimination.

In reality, individuals with PTSD are more likely to be victims of violence rather than the perpetrators.

They are often struggling with intense fear, anxiety, or sadness rather than aggression towards others.

Furthermore, PTSD is a treatable condition. Many effective treatments, including psychotherapy and medication, are available that can help individuals manage their symptoms and lead productive lives.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, the main treatments for people with PTSD are medications, psychotherapy ('talk' therapy), or both.

Treatment Options for PTSD

There are a variety of treatment options available for those diagnosed with PTSD, tailored to meet the specific needs of the individual.

The two primary forms of treatment are psychotherapy and medication. Psychotherapy, also known as talk therapy, involves meeting with a mental health professional on a regular basis to discuss the traumatic event, learn coping strategies, manage symptoms, and work through the trauma.

There are several types of psychotherapy used for PTSD treatment including cognitive processing therapy (CPT), prolonged exposure (PE) therapy, and Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR).

The effectiveness of these treatments varies from person to person, but research has shown positive results overall.

According to the American Psychological Association, evidence-based psychotherapies for PTSD, like CPT and PE, have been found to be effective in up to 60% of individuals.

Medication can also be an effective treatment option, often used in conjunction with psychotherapy.

Understanding the available treatment options and their effectiveness is crucial for individuals with PTSD to make informed decisions about their care.

Coping Strategies and Support for People with PTSD

There are several self-care strategies and lifestyle changes that can help manage PTSD symptoms.

Regular physical activity, for instance, has been shown to reduce symptoms of anxiety and improve mood.

Mindfulness practices such as meditation, yoga, and deep breathing exercises can also be beneficial in managing stress and promoting relaxation.

Moreover, maintaining a regular sleep schedule and a healthy diet can contribute to overall well-being and resilience.

It's also important to avoid alcohol and drugs, which can worsen PTSD symptoms and make it harder to cope with the condition.

Support from family, friends, and support groups plays an integral role in the recovery process.

These networks provide a safe space for individuals with PTSD to share their experiences, express their feelings, and learn from others who are going through similar experiences.

The act of sharing can be therapeutic and can help individuals feel less isolated. Additionally, loved ones can offer emotional support, encouragement, and assistance in seeking professional help.

Support groups, both in person and online, can also provide understanding, advice, and coping strategies.

This sense of community and understanding can be incredibly empowering for those dealing with PTSD.


PTSD disorder can stem from a variety of traumatic experiences, not just combat or violent incidents, and its impact can be debilitating.

However, with effective treatment options available, including psychotherapy and medication, individuals with PTSD can manage their symptoms and lead fulfilling lives.

Self-care strategies and support networks also play a significant role in the healing process. It's important for those suffering from PTSD to seek help without fear of stigma, and equally vital for family, friends, and society at large to offer understanding and support.

By increasing awareness and fostering a supportive environment, we can make a meaningful difference in the lives of those affected by PTSD. 

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February 28th, 2024

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