When is an traumatic experience just a traumatic experience and when should i be worried it might be PTSD ?
Last Updated: 07/11/2017 at 11:16am
Theresa Gulliver, Registered Clinical Counsellor
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Speaking from a psychological point of view, PTSD can not be diagnosed until at least a month after the traumatic event. Any symptoms present from the traumatic event to three days after are considered normal reaction. From 3 days to a month is diagnosed as acute stress disorder. However, you can not diagnosed yourself or anyone else with PTSD. You must get a professional opinion for that.
Traumatic experiences are bad experiences that you are able to overcome and it is not significantly impairing your life for a prolonged period of time. While on the other hand, PTSD is not being able to overcome that trauma leading to impairment in various aspects of life (i.e., persistence re-experiencing, alterations in cognitive, mood, arousal, reactivity). If ever in doubt, consult a doctor. They would be able to tell for sure if what you're suffering from is just a traumatic experience or PTSD.
The difference is when the affects of a traumatic experience is elongated and starts to affect your entire self. Same with every disorder, starts with a normal reaction, however becomes prolonged and affects functioning. So give yourself 6 months, and see how things are. If your still having trauma attacks after then, then you can worry about PTSD.
I am no expert, but I think this has to be a personal question insofar as - how much is it interfering in your life and how bothered are you? I don't think it can ever be too early if you are bothered and want to seek professional help, but I definitely think that if it is interfering in your everyday life, you might want to seek some help to see what options you have to handle it.
It is not recommended that you diagnose yourself with disorders, as it can make us feel a lot worse about a situation, or rough period we are going through. If the traumatic experience was more than a few months ago, and you are experiencing symptoms of ptsd or a disorder related to the incident, it may be worth getting someone else's opinion on it. For example if I had a trauma where someone ate my slice of cake, it would be normal to keep a closer look over my things, and worry a little about thieves for a few weeks or so. However if a few months later, I am experiencing symptoms of paranoia, being overly/unusually protective over my belongings, or having trust issues, it might be something bigger than a trauma. Feel free to chat to a listener if you have any issues or concerns :)
You should be worried if it is PTSD if it last longer than around a month. Also, the symptoms for PTSD are the same as acute stress disorder, but will not last as long. If you feel that you are suffering from PTSD go in and see a doctor so you know right away and what can help! :)
I personally would not be concerned about labelling the traumatic experience and it consequences as PTSD or not (just a diagnsis for simplification overall), rather on how significantly the traumatic experience affects my daily life, what areas of it, if I need support to deal with them
PTSD can start after any traumatic event. A traumatic event is one where you see that you are in danger, your life is threatened, or where you see other people dying or being injured. Like: accidents, Violent personal assault (sexual assault, physical attack, abuse, robbery, mugging).terrorist attack, etc. Even hearing about the unexpected injury or violent death of a family member or close friend can start PTSD. PTSD is characterized with: flashbacks and nightmares, avoidance, being in 'guard; and also healthy problems liks: headache, irregular heart beats, depression and srinking a lot or start to consuming drugs.
When you have had a traumatic experience it can be just a traumatic experience and you move on. When you start having difficulty with that you could have PTSD. Needing help from professional.
Traumatic experiences can bring on PTSD, PTSD is a result of trauma, if you are feeling mentally unwell due to trauma, or it has had a big impact on you and your life then it may be PTSD.
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