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Could This Be PTSD?

Is my reaction a “normal response” or is it PTSD?

I have heard this from many clients when they first begin working with me. You’ve experienced something traumatic, and you’re wondering if what you are feeling is “normal.” I first want you to hear that there is no right or wrong way to cope with what you’ve experienced.

Trauma can (and most likely will) happen to all of us at some point in our lives. Trauma is considered any event that has caused significant distress to us, either by being present or even hearing about the event itself. This can be anything from a car accident, to emotional, physical, or sexual abuse, or by hearing about recent traumatic experiences that a friend or family member may have gone through. Here are some common symptoms that are possible following a traumatic event:

  • Feeling numb or “disconnected” to our environment or ourselves
  • Feeling hyper-aware of our surroundings. This could look like looking for danger at the grocery store or feeling “jumpy” or “on edge.”
  • Nightmares or intrusive thoughts (unwanted thoughts) about the event
  • Depressive symptoms such as sadness or fatigue
  • Fear of the event happening again
  • Difficulty concentrating

Everyone is different, but it is common for someone to have some or all of these symptoms after a traumatic event. Our bodies and minds need time to process and cope with what we have gone through, and this can be a very difficult and uncomfortable experience.

So, when do these reactions mean that we may be dealing with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, “PTSD?” This primarily depends on two major factors- severity and length of time of the symptoms. If you have experienced any of the symptoms above, they last longer than one month, and the symptoms are severe enough to interfere with your daily life, you may be dealing with PTSD. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is the long-term trauma responses that continue to interfere with daily life.

PTSD is treatable and there is hope. Whether it’s been a day, a month or 10 years following a trauma, you deserve support. If you or someone you know is having difficulty processing trauma, may be diagnosed with PTSD, or could use a little extra support, we can help!

About the Author:

Melissa Champion provides counseling for teens and young adults in Grand RapidsMelissa Champion, LMSW, CAADC is a therapist at Lifeologie Grand Rapids! She specializes in areas of anxiety, depression, substance use, and trauma work with adults and older teens. She understands the importance of finding new and more effective tools to add to your toolbox, and she’s here to help you on your healing journey.

To find out more about Melissa, check out her bio here!