Trauma is both a huge and subtle influencer of human behavior. People may have experienced some form of trauma in the past and might not have really thought about it much, but the truth of the matter is that many of the person’s adverse traits and characteristics may be due to that trauma. This is particularly true with those who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), more prominently seen in the symptoms of PTSD in men.
What is PTSD?
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a psychological disorder that is typically seen in people who have experienced or witnessed a traumatic event, a series of intense events, or were exposed to a significant set of circumstances.
The event itself could be something that most people would find to be extreme or intense, or it could be something that is exclusive and personal to the person who finds the experience traumatizing.
People are typically very prone to one form of trauma or another, so much so that 1 in 13 Americans is quite likely to experience an event that will give them PTSD at one point in their lives. While not as prone to PTSD as women, at least 4 out of every 100 American men are highly likely to suffer from PTSD during their lifetime.
What are the Symptoms of PTSD?
People who have PTSD often suffer from adverse psychological and behavioral effects, making them think and act in an illogical manner. There are those who react in a specific manner when they encounter a “trigger” that is connected to their PTSD in some way. In other people, PTSD caused a deliberate change in the way that they think and act, with the change becoming persistent over time.
Some of the more common symptoms of PTSD include:
Some events become so personally disturbing to some people that they experience instances where they think they are going through the traumatic event once more. This could result in varying responses from the person, depending on their particular reaction to the memory of the traumatic event.
The experience could include:
- Vivid flashbacks
- Unpredictable intrusive thoughts
- Intense distress at real or symbolic reminders of the trauma
- Perceived physical sensations such as pain, sweating, nausea, or trembling
In some cases, PTSD could induce a state where the person appears to be going through a fight-or-flight response to an event. This is most commonly observed in people who have seen combat or were exposed to great conflicts or acts of violence. Oftentimes, they perceive a trigger that is relevant to their trauma, much like a soldier perceiving someone to be an enemy.
The experience could include:
- Sudden and unpredictable irritability
- Hypervigilance (state of extreme alertness)
- Disrupted sleep patterns
- Uncharacteristically aggressive behavior
- Inability to concentrate or focus
- Easily startled
There are some people who react to their PTSD by attempting to consciously erase entire chunks of their memory relevant to the trauma. Due to the fact that they want to rid themselves of anything that has to do with the memory or idea of the trauma, chunks of memory that could be unrelated to the trauma but have some relevance by way of date, location, or involved people often become “forgotten” as well.
For some, it is a constant conscious effort, while others have become relatively successful in evading the relevant thoughts that they go about their life with missing chunks of their memory.
The experience could include:
- Intense need to keep busy
- Significant effort to avoid anything relevant to the trauma
- Inability to remember details of what happened
- Affective blunting (feeling emotionally numb or cut off from personal feelings)
- Depersonalization (feeling physically numb or detached from your body)
- Apathetic (being unable to express affection)
- Reduced sense of self-preservation
- Increased risk of developing a substance abuse disorder
One of the hallmarks of PTSD is a marked difficulty to socialize, as the person is bombarded with conflicting thoughts and emotions when exposed to other people or places. Many who have PTSD also engage in a good deal of self-destructive ideas, such as blaming themselves for perceived faults or mistakes, or even for events that they have absolutely no involvement at all.
The experience could include:
- Extreme distrust of others
- Persecution complex (irrational belief that others are trying to harm or conspire against them)
- Severe paranoia
- Misguided feeling that nobody understands
- Increased self-blame for most things
- Overwhelming and unexplainable feelings of anger, sadness, guilt, or shame
How does PTSD affect a Person’s Life?
What makes PTSD particularly alarming is that anyone could have it, and the telltale signs are not always prominent. This means that a person suffering from PTSD could be right in the middle of the elements that serve as triggers to them. Depending on how severe their reaction is, it could either be a severely distressing instance where the person seemingly shuts down or it could be a highly unfortunate response that involves violence on the part of the person with PTSD.
For some people with PTSD, they prefer to simply stay away from others for as long as they can. This is because they believe that most people would not understand what they are going through, and would just subject the person with PTSD to unfair judgment and treatment.
In other cases, the person with PTSD believes that being around others could pose as an imminent danger as they could lash out at a moment’s notice, regardless if the people around them triggered them or not. This is one of the typical situations that former soldiers find themselves in, as they try to live the rest of their days while dealing with the trauma of having seen much bloodshed and combat.
The fear response in people could completely rewire the brain in that the person perceives threats where there are none. This is often seen in people who have been victims of heinous crimes or in people who have seen great conflicts, such as soldiers and law enforcement people.
For some people with PTSD, their minds forego the typical threat assessment phase and immediately brand something or someone as a clear and present danger. This often leads to violence, as the person with PTSD decides to avoid being a victim again and initiates the offensive even when unprovoked.
People with PTSD who are not able to isolate themselves often end up with severe distrust and antisocial behavior, as they actively seek to drive people away from their vicinity. These people often become consciously offensive and aggressive, subjecting the people around them to verbal abuse or even physical harassment.
When confronted and asked why they engage in such behavior, they often respond with illogical responses and wildly imaginative claims where the person believes that there was a real threat to them. This kind of situation often frustrates responding authorities as people with PTSD completely believe that they are the victims instead of the offender.
A sad reality about PTSD is that a large number of people who have it also have a high likelihood of developing a substance abuse disorder. This is most evident in the number of veterans who also suffer from one form of addiction or another. In the absence of proper therapy and treatment, many veterans seek the solace of alcohol or drugs to deal with what PTSD is making them go through.
PTSD and addiction is also largely the reason why so many veterans end up on the street, unable to secure employment or even lead a normal life after their service. This situation, however, also leaves the veterans without the support needed to deal with their PTSD, allowing it to continue to get worse.
A common condition shared by people with PTSD is anxiety in most of its forms, particularly depression. This is also largely why so many people with PTSD engage in substance abuse, as they seek the closest thing to relief from what they feel. The sad reality is that getting substances will only serve to make the depression even worse.
This could even extend into other portions of their life, creating a way of thinking that prefers to look at the bleak and negative aspects of life instead of seeing the more positive outlook. This kind of character trait is typically persistent, turning the person with PTSD into the colloquial “wet blanket”, proffering the worst-case scenario whenever possible.
There is a Way to Live Free from Anxiety and Trauma
Live Free Recovery has always been dedicated to helping people through conditions that would otherwise rob them of the choice to be healthy, happy, and free of dependence. One is never free when there is something weighing them down, such as mental conditions or substance use disorders. We are here to show people the way out of these situations, with honest work, effort, and positivity.
Everyone deserves to live with freedom. This is an ideal we stand by. It is what drives us to be better at what we do, so the people we help could be better as well. Find more about our men’s rehab in NH here.