The Most Common PTSD Myths And Symptoms

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There are many myths surrounding the topic of PTSD that I feel are important to debunk.

Myth #1: PTSD only happens to war veterans.

Truth: Research shows that children and people who’ve never experienced combat can have PTSD. People can experience PTSD if they’ve been in an accident, experienced any form of abuse and dysfunction, or even through the course of grieving the death of a loved one.

Myth #2 PTSD is something that only happens to men.

Truth: About 10 percent of women will experience PTSD in their lifetime and women are twice as likely to develop PTSD to men. Between 3 and 15 percent of girls who’ve had a trauma develop PTSD and between 1-6 percent of boys who’ve experienced some form of trauma develop PTSD.

Myth #3 Your therapist or doctor will diagnose you straight away.

Truth: PTSD is commonly overlooked and often goes undetected. One of the reasons this happens is because a person might not experience the PTSD symptoms straight away; in fact, sometimes it isn’t until years later that an individual starts to experience symptoms related to a traumatic event. Additionally, therapists require that a patient experience all of the documented symptoms of PTSD or at least one of the symptoms for one straight month.

Myth #4: PTSD only happens due to recurring events.

Truth: One event can be enough to bring on PTSD.

Myth #5 You cannot function or live the life of your dreams if you have PTSD.

Truth: Sometimes undiagnosed PTSD is the very thing that is preventing you from moving forward on your life plans and goals because without you knowing it, the symptoms are preventing you from focus, clarity, and confidence. It is absolutely possible to live the life you desire even if you have PTSD.

Myth #6: You’re not normal and cannot have a fulfilling life if you have PTSD.

Truth: You are normal. You’re still whole and complete even if you have PTSD. And, it is possible that you can have an even more fulfilling, peaceful, and connected life once receiving such a diagnosis because you will learn how to manage and minimize symptoms while practicing being more mindful, still, and deeply engaged in your life.

Common Symptoms
  • Walking around defensively. Waiting for somebody to shout, attack, or hurt you. Walking around on eggshells and hyper-vigilance.
  • Hyper-arousal. Jumping and flinching at the sound of a door slamming, loud noises, or family or friends yelling and talking loudly.
  • Possibly angry when you hear another chew loudly, swallow or gulp, or even the smell of cigarettes or another substance may put you on edge and make you irritable.
  • Feeling claustrophobic or annoyed if somebody stands too close to you in the supermarket or on the street.
  • May not be able to tolerate crowds or a lot of people.
  • Ruminating, having obsessive thoughts, or intrusive thoughts that scare you. Sudden invasive images while awake that are random, seem to make no sense and go against your core values
  • Digestion issues and food allergies
  • Over-working and perfectionism
  • People-pleasing and proving
  • Over-explaining, justifying, over-apologizing
  • Feeling numb, disconnected, apathetic
  • Dissociation blacking out
  • Brain fog—mixing up words like saying “yesterday” instead of tomorrow
  • Decreased interest in things that once truly mattered and were enjoyable to you
  • Inability to remember trauma or have blocked it
  • Flooding of difficult memories of instances throughout your waking day
  • Insomnia or constantly disrupted sleep
  • Nightmares
  • Difficulty focusing
Tips for Coping with PTSD

The tips below are a little “toolkit” I put together with my therapist, as well as extensive research I conducted. While I have found these tips have helped me with my PTSD, this is not a “one-size-fits-all” package. You may have to experiment a bit on what works best for you. For me, using a combination of the tips below helped a lot.

1. Guided meditation and guided visualization.

With PTSD, it’s important to give the brain a break, to calm down your adrenals and stop trauma and anxiety responses. Positive guided visualization helps reduce stress and has you visualize successful and positive scenarios while also having you focus on the breath.

2. Reiki, massage and acupuncture (if you don’t have a phobia with needles).

If touch triggers you, this may not be the coping method for you. For me, these modalities showed me I was safe to be touched and were very relaxing.

3. Stress-reducing foods.

Studies have shown that eating blueberries, dairy, non-processed cheese, green vegetables, almonds, and drinking chamomile tea have a significant reduction in PTSD symptoms while bringing on rather immediate calm.

4. Pet therapy.

Petting your cat, listening to their purrs for example, have shown some ways to calm the nerves and help soothe the PTSD symptoms.

5. Mantras and meditation.

Research shows that saying or chanting a mantra during meditation has been one of the most beneficial ways to reduce PTSD symptoms.

6. Practicing gentleness.

Consciously and intentionally eat, drink, talk, drive, shower, brush your teeth, and all other daily activities gently. When practicing gentleness, you respond versus react and are less prone to trauma and anxiety responses.

7. Avoiding caffeine and alcohol.

Studies show alcohol and caffeine trigger nightmares, invasive images, and rev up the central nervous system.

8. Listening to binaural beats.

The tones and beats of binaural beats have been shown to significantly help with better and deeper sleep, reduce anxiety, help boost confidence, and encourage relaxation.

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