Post-traumatic stress disorder is a mental illness you might develop after you witness or experience something dangerous, frightening or upsetting. PTSD symptoms can start immediately or after a delay of weeks or months.
Trauma causes your innate fight-or-flight response to go into overdrive. As a result, you will feel nervous and have trouble relaxing, even when you are somewhere safe where you should be comfortable. Your PTSD symptoms may be severe enough to interfere with your daily quality of life in ways like these.
1. Nightmares and Flashbacks
PTSD affects the brain regions that govern your memories, emotions and behavior. Essentially, your brain gets stuck on a loop that causes you to relive the experience through intrusive, unwanted flashbacks and nightmares. In some cases, post-traumatic stress disorder may include symptoms of psychosis – including dissociation, paranoia and auditory hallucinations.
When you have PTSD, you may feel like parts of your life are no longer in your control. Because PTSD triggers can be unpredictable and might cause a severe reaction in a public place, you could take steps to rearrange your daily activities and reduce your risk of encountering any reminders of what you went through. While these self-imposed restrictions might give you the sense that you are handling your disorder better, they will probably also prevent you from doing some previously enjoyable activities.
Hyperarousal is a feeling that you should always be ready to respond to a threat, even when no danger is present. You might experience a racing heart rate, sweating, shaking and oversensitivity to stimuli like sounds and smells. Being jumpy, startling easily and having trouble concentrating are classic PTSD symptoms. Along with this, you could struggle with insomnia and unexplained physical effects such as body aches, headaches and digestive issues.
4. Co-Occurring Disorders
PTSD frequently overlaps with other mental health issues like anxiety and depression. It also co-occurs with addiction, as people may use drugs and alcohol to seek a temporary escape from their severe symptoms. Ultimately, these co-occurring disorders will feed on each other in a vicious cycle that makes you feel much worse.
Feelings of disconnectedness from people who don’t understand what you’re going through can disrupt your relationships. Whether you push friends and loved ones away with your words and deeds or they sever ties because they can’t handle your unpredictability, being alone and lacking a support network will add to your existing burden of guilt and shame.
Finding Relief From Your PTSD Symptoms
PTSD and co-occurring disorders respond to treatment, and evidence shows that simultaneously addressing mental health conditions and substance use provides the best outcomes. If you’re living with a dual diagnosis, you can overcome your challenge with time, patience and a willingness to work on self-improvement.
At Cumberland Heights, our team has treated people with substance use disorders and co-occurring mental health conditions for years. This experience has allowed us to develop specific assessment criteria that help us determine who can benefit the most from the services we provide. A personalized treatment program ensures you receive the highest level of care for your dual diagnosis. To learn more about getting your life back, please connect with us today.