Trying to recognize PTSD symptoms


Trying to recognize PTSD symptoms

by: Kim Suchek | .
. | .
published: April 03, 2014

Hello Military community,

With the continue rotations and stress involved within their daily lives many families worry about service member showing signs of, PTSD, or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. This week, I am attempting to answer a few emails from spouses and/or loved ones requesting information regarding symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

It is important to bear in mind that I am not a counselor or doctor. I will, however, discuss what I understand about what I have learned and researched. If you are worried your service member is showing symptoms, contact your primary health care provider immediately.

Sometimes, the signs of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder can be obvious and at other time it can be hard to see. It is normal to have stress reactions after a traumatic event, your emotions and behavior can change in ways that are upsetting to you. Even though most people have stress reactions following a trauma, they get better in time.

Service members, however, should seek help if:  Symptoms last longer than three months, cause them great distress, or disrupt their work or home life.

As stated, symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder may disrupt their life and make it hard to continue with daily activities. They may find it hard just to get through the day. There are four types of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder symptoms:

  1. Reliving the event (also called re-experiencing symptoms):  Memories of the traumatic event can come back at any time. They may feel the same fear and horror as when the event took place. For example, have nightmares and/or flashbacks of an event.  Service member may see, hear, or smell something that causes them to relive the event.  This is called a trigger. For example news reports, seeing an accident, or hearing a car backfire.
  2. Avoiding situations that remind them of the event:  According to the Veterans Affairs website, service members may try to avoid situations or people that trigger memories of the traumatic event. They may even avoid talking or thinking about the event. For example: avoiding crowds, because they feel dangerous, avoid driving if they were in a car accident or if their military convoy was bombed, or avoid watching movies that are about what they went through, and they may attempt to keep busy or avoid seeking help because it keeps them from having to think or talk about the event.
  3. Negative changes in beliefs and feelings:  The way a service member thinks about themselves and others changes because of the trauma. This symptom has many aspects, including the following:  Your service member may not have positive or loving feelings toward other people and may stay away from relationships. They may also forget about parts of the traumatic event, not be able to talk about them, and may think the world is completely dangerous and no one can be trusted.
  4. Feeling Keyed up (also called hyperarousal):  Service member may be jittery or always alert and on the lookout for danger. They may suddenly become angry or irritable. This is known as hyperarousal. For example:  They may have a hard time sleeping, concentrating, startled by loud noises or surprises. Sometimes they are only comfortable with their back to a wall in a public setting and at times even at home.

What should a veteran do if experiencing symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder? Symptoms usually start soon after the traumatic event. But for some, they may not happen until months or years after the trauma. Symptoms may come and go over many years.

So, service members should keep track of their symptoms and talk to someone they trust about what they are going through. Remember that once symptoms start and last longer than four weeks, it can cause great distress and disrupt work or home life. Your service member may need to seek professional help from a doctor or counselor. I hope my article is providing the answers and information you are looking for; if you have any further questions feel free to contact me.

Blessings from my family to yours,

Kim Suchek

If you have any questions or concerns or would like to share a story or situation, contact me at and visit my website at for updated information and other resources not listed in my book.

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