Symptoms of PTSD That May Be Difficult To Recognize


Ongoing stress responses about the experience of a traumatizing event characterize Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). These events may have involved severe bodily or psychological harm, such as car accidents, witnessing someone pass away, or being the victim of a violent crime. However, considering that people with PTSD tend to develop various mental barriers to manage the turmoil caused by a traumatic event, knowing which behaviors or feelings are underlying signs of PTSD may be tricky.

  • Sudden or worsening substance abuse.

To numb or lessen the painful feelings associated with a distressing event, drugs and alcohol are common coping mechanisms for individuals with PTSD. Under the influence of substances, it may be challenging for others to be aware of someone's PTSD struggles. Through substance abuse, self-medicating may present itself as little more than alcoholism or drug addiction alone.

  • Feelings of guilt.

Guilt related to experiencing trauma can manifest itself in a few different ways. For example, the first is self-blame, where the victim may believe they deserved to go through the stressful ordeal or that they were at fault for causing the traumatic event in the first place. The other guilt response is 'survivor's guilt,' which is in response to when someone other than yourself experiences loss. While the name implies more directly the loss of life, it can also mean losing quality of life, a sense of identity or purpose, or loss of personal assets.

  • Mood swings or erratic behavior.

PTSD often co-exists with depression. Additionally, for such people, Agoraphobia, social anxiety, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), and panic disorder are all disorders stemming from anxiety that present a higher risk. To complicate matters further, distinguishing whether these disorders existed before the onset of trauma and the PTSD caused by it or if they began to surface afterward. A clear clinical framework for treatment may clouded by symptoms.

  • Social isolation.

The basis of our evolution is designed around survivability by keeping ourselves safe; three physiological responses to the threat response are flight, fight, and freeze. However, the sensitivity to a person's response to a threat may significantly increase in people with PTSD. Trauma survivors may constantly be on edge or detached from unfamiliar social situations and settings. As it can be confusing and overwhelming to continually be on guard of potential triggers or perceived threats, restraining themselves to the familiarity of their own company is a typical response.

  • Body dysmorphia.

A strong link between body dysmorphia, also known as BDD, and some form of childhood trauma correlates with 3 out of 4 people with the disorder, as discovered by one study. Lack of emotional bonding would seem to be the most prominent risk factor. In addition, abuse victims of physical and sexual assault are also among the leading causes. A connection between BDD and PTSD lies in the idea that to manage PTSD symptoms, like internalized shame or ruminating worry, individuals may treat body dysmorphia as a way to cope.