PTSD: An Inside Look

Ever wondered what PTSD, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, is actually a diagnosis for? This diagnosis is talked about often by the public and the professionals in the mental health community.

PTSD has been a diagnosis for the battle fatigued men and women soldiers for decades. The men and women that have put their life on the line for our country often are returning with serious trauma issues. Consequently PTSD has been an accurate diagnosis to give these suffering men and women.

On the scene comes the growing awareness that males and females from childhood have experienced trauma from a very mild experience to something very serious, i.e. Sabrina’s story as told on this blog The classic symptom of PTSD is the “flashback”. The experience for an adult of a flashback, who has experienced as an adult or as a child, trauma, is the adult who is feeling feelings of the past as if the trauma is happening now. The person can thus be “caught” in a sense of reality that has origins in the past.

An example of this is the adult who was sexually abused as a child. Often, as seen in my psychology practice, these adults when having a healthy sexual experience with their spouse may “feel like their are being abused when in fact in the here now hey are not”. Their bodies may respond as if they are being abused by feeling little to no sexual desire, painful intercourse and/ or pre-mature ejaculation.

This is often very painful for the person experiencing this and subsequently people close to this person. Many struggles for the surrounding people of the trauma survivor is how do I assist my loved one move beyond this flashback.

So what needs to happen when the flashback is occurring? Awareness is the a critical first step. Awareness occurs through an understanding
what Post Traumatic disorder is and how it manifests in certain symptoms, which may be very debilitating. Many of my clients over the thirty-three years I have practiced as a psychotherapist and 22 of those years as a Licensed Psychologist, have said to me, “I did not know I was experiencing PTSD and/or a flashback”.

As clients with PTSD progress in psychotherapy with me, each man or woman comes to unravel the history that lead to their diagnosis of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder. This is done with a carefully guided process of examination of the trauma and its subsequent consequences by me their psychologist with the client in therapy sessions. Many people come to examine their PTSD because a loved one or a friend urges them to understand how their experience of the here and now has a “slanted” view. The flashback holds a person hostage to their past. Through assisting the person to stay in the now through many different techniques and exercises, all people have the capability and potential to move beyond the flashback.

Her are 7 symptoms to look for if you are wondering if you or a close person to you may be struggling from PTSD:

!.) Recurring recollections that are upsetting, i.e. thoughts or images of an event that was trauamtic.

2.) Feeling as if the traumatic event was recurring, i.e. flashbacks.

3.) An effort to avoid thoughts or conversations of the traumatic event.

4.) Difficulty falling or staying asleep.

5.) Hypervigilance, i.e. “watching over your shoulder in fear it is going to happen again”.

6.) A sense of your future being shortened in time, i.e. a person feeling or believing they will only live till 40 years old.

7.) Exaggerated startle response, i.e. when a person who has experienced trauma when hearing a loud sound (such as loud clapping hands or loud thunder in a storm) , may feel a deep and quick sense of panic or fear.

If you or a loved one have 4 out 7 of these symptoms, I urge you to call me 763-572-2326 or email me at to schedule an appointment to assess if you are experiencing Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.