During my three previous PTSD related blogs, I covered Avoidance, Intrusive memories, and Negative changes in thinking and mood. On this particular blog, I will cover Changes in emotional reactions. As you may recall, at the age of 7, I witnessed the tragic murders of my mother Helen Thomas, her boyfriend and my godmother.
Although I suffered from a gunshot wound, it was the mental scars that did the most significant damage. Since this tragic event, I have been clinically diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder also known as PTSD.
According to the Mayo Clinic, PTSD is a mental health condition that's triggered by a terrifying event — either experiencing it or witnessing it. Symptoms may include flashbacks, nightmares, and severe anxiety, as well as uncontrollable thoughts about the event.
Here are some of the most notable symptoms of changes in emotional reactions (also called arousal symptoms) :
* Irritability, angry outbursts or aggressive behavior
* Always being on guard for danger
* Overwhelming guilt or shame
* Self-destructive behavior, such as drinking too much or driving at
* Trouble concentrating
* Trouble sleeping
* Being easily startled or frightened
As it pertains to PTSD, there are two types of emotions: primary emotions and secondary emotions.
According to Matthew Tull, PhD, those with PTSD may experience sadness, anger or anxiety when reminded of traumatic events or other stressful moments. This type of emotional reaction is called primary emotion.
Also according to Tull, sometimes emotions occur in response to having other emotions. For example, you might feel shame about being anxious or sad because you're angry. This type of emotional reaction is called a secondary emotion.
I can really relate to the above mentioned because I can feel some very strong emotions after experiencing flashbacks or whenever I have trouble concentrating. This generally leaves me in a very depressive state.
Whenever I encounter situations that may trigger PTSD, I utilize all available resources at my disposal (MH therapist, family, friends, spiritual leaders, online resources etc) and I encourage you to do the same. As it pertains to all clinically diagnosed mental illnesses, please seek mental health care from a licensed provider (MH) and thoroughly research all your diagnosis and prescribed medications.
If you feel the need to talk to someone, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (800-273-8255) to reach a trained counselor.
Current and former service members, use that same number and press 1 to reach the Veterans Crisis Line.
Also, please remember, if you think you may hurt yourself or others, call 911 or your local emergency number immediately.