Trauma and PTSD Self-Evaluation

Most trauma survivors experience some post-traumatic symptoms in the days following the traumatic event, and sometimes even for weeks afterward.

Many wonder if the symptoms they’re experiencing indicate that they have post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). For most people, though, these post-traumatic symptoms decrease or disappear entirely over time, and are replaced by coping behaviors and a return to daily routine. Experiencing such symptoms initially is completely normal, and even healthy. However, for some people these symptoms persist and may intensify with time. If, after a month, a person feels that his/her symptoms are not subsiding, they might benefit from turning to a professional.

There’s really just one main rule for dealing with post-traumatic symptoms:

  1. If the feelings you experience disrupt your everyday life, your daily functioning or the lives of those around you for an extended period of time — ask for help.
  2. If you feel that thoughts and feelings connected to the trauma fill up your day and affect your ability to enjoy yourself and be happy — ask for help.
  3. If you feel more and more disconnected from the things that you found helpful in the past, such as friends, various activities and beliefs — ask for help.

If you or someone close to you is experiencing several of the symptoms listed below, see how you can help yourself and/or turn to professional help.

Check the following symptoms that apply to you:

A. Re-experiencing

Do you:

  • Feel that you are continuously reliving the experience in disturbing thoughts, smells, images, sounds or feelings related to the trauma?
  • Suffer from nightmares dealing with the trauma?
  • Have flashbacks and repeatedly feel that you are experiencing the trauma again?
  • Feel stressed, distressed and/or anxious when exposed to people, places or items that are connected to the trauma?

B. Avoidance

Do you:

  • Avoid thoughts, conversations or feelings related to the trauma?
  • Avoid places, activities or people that/who remind you of the trauma?

C. Negative Thought Patterns (“Cognitions”) and Moods

Do you:

  • Blame yourself or others for what happened?
  • Feel negatively about yourself and the world around you?
  • Feel removed and alienated from other people?
  • Take less interest in things that you used to enjoy?
  • Feel that you cannot experience happiness, joy, love and other positive emotions?
  • Have difficulty remembering a key aspect of the trauma?

D. Arousal

Do you:

  • Have difficulty falling or staying asleep?
  • Feel annoyed and become angry for no discernable reason?
  • Have difficulty concentrating and studying?
  • Feel tense and alert all the time without knowing why?
  • Jump at every loud noise or sudden movement?
  • Engage in dangerous behavior that you did not participate in before the trauma?

E. Addictive substances

Have you:

  • Started drinking alcohol after the trauma, in order to distract yourself from the disturbing thoughts and feelings?
  • Used drugs in order to stop feeling the way you’ve been feeling?

If you answered yes to one or more questions in section A; one question in section B; and two or more questions in both sections C and D, and over a month has passed since the traumatic event, and/or you’re using drugs or alcohol to alleviate the way you’ve been feeling, we strongly recommend you turn to professional help at one of the many centers that help trauma survivors, including ours. There are several different types of trauma treatment available, and many are rigorously documented to provide significant relief.