In an earlier post, I shared with you a little how we identify that an event or situation has been actually traumatizing to a person. I spoke about symptoms that are experienced, such as avoiding the thoughts or memories related to those events. But at what point does a person go from having experienced Trauma, to actually having Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder? In this, the first of a series of nine posts, I will talk about PTSD and the specifics of each criteria that must be met, in accordance with the APA’s DSM-5 (visit www.psychiatry.org for more information).
A preliminary warning, however, as we have become a nation of warning labels of “use at your own risk” and pleas to “do NOT try this at home,” this information is being offered merely as a way to help you understand more about the disorder in hopes of bringing you peace or a feeling of validation. This is not a tool by which you should diagnose yourself or others. Even if you believe you meet all the criteria required for a PTSD diagnosis, there is much more that goes into diagnoses that requires you to be evaluated and assessed by a licensed professional who is skilled and experienced in the field of mental health. There is a great deal of overlap between disorders, and it is often the case that what you think you are seeing is actually masquerading as a completely different issue.
Furthermore, no two people with PTSD (or without it, for that matter) will present exactly the same way. At the very core, we are all individual and unique and how this looks with me may not be how it looks for you. Likewise, please note that the information I will be sharing applies to how the disorder manifests in adults. The criteria and presentation of PTSD is different in children and even adolescents.
And finally, please remember the spirit in which this series is being offered. I hope the information will help you in feeling validated and that you are not alone. If you suspect you have PTSD, please consider reaching out to a skilled therapist ASAP. PTSD is treatable, and in many cases, actually curable now. You no longer have to resign yourself to living trapped in old, painful or terrifying experiences while the world goes on around you! It is also highly worth checking out some therapy even if your trauma(s) have NOT caused PTSD. In these cases, healing comes even faster and easier, and allows for you to regain hope and confidence in yourself. The latter being so VERY important–how you feel about yourself colors every area of your existence and experience. Working through old hurts that you are stuck-on might be one of the best things you ever do for yourself!
Stay tuned for the second post in this series, “PTSD–The Exposure Piece,” to come next week.
Keep on fighting,