How to Know if You Are Suffering From PTSD
In recent years, the media has raised our social awareness about Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) because it has affected so many soldiers returning from combat. Although many people—adults and children alike—continue to suffer from PTSD, it is not well understood by the masses and little is known about how to help people overcome it.
In this article, you will learn about the risk factors for developing PTSD, the signs and symptoms of PTSD, and how Amen Clinics can help you or your loved one overcome the shame, stigma, and frustration that many people with the condition endure.
PTSD Vulnerability in the Brain
- Experiencing a traumatic event
- Witnessing (in person) a traumatic event
- Learning that someone close to you experienced a traumatic event
- Repeated exposure to graphic details of traumatic events (for example, if you are a first responder to the scene of traumatic events)
- Intense recollections such as flashbacks and nightmares
- Inability to recall certain aspects of what happened
- Avoidance of people, places or things that are reminders of the event
- Inability to stop thinking about it
- Increased or excessive anxiety
- Feeling emotionally numb
- Problems with sleep
- Anger and irritability
- Depressive symptoms
- Social isolation
Does Trauma Always Lead to PTSD?
After a traumatic incident, it is common for people to develop some of the symptoms associated with PTSD. Our brains are wired to alarm us about the presence and threat of danger, so having a physical and psychological response to trauma is very normal, but the symptoms should eventually diminish.
Unfortunately, not everyone heals with time. Often in PTSD, symptoms don’t develop right after a traumatic event; rather, they emerge several months later. For some people, it may even be years later—particularly if triggered by a new trauma.
For war veterans, there is an online self-assessment test (for free) from the PTSD Foundation of America.
Is There a Medical Screening Test for PTSD?
On brain SPECT scans, the pattern of PTSD typically reveals over-activity in multiple areas of the brain, which is often referred to as the “diamond plus pattern.” This high activity tends to keep the brain on overdrive, increasing anxiety and irritability and interfering with sleep.
Image below: SPECT Imaging of PTSD Before & After Treatment
Brain SPECT imaging helps:
- Demonstrate that symptoms and behaviors are not imaginary, thereby reducing emotional pain and stigma.
- Families gain a better understanding of what is actually going on in the brain of their loved one.
- Helps to target treatment specifically to your brain.
- Even though we typically see the “diamond plus pattern” with PTSD, we obviously don’t always see it, so treatment can be targeted not to a cluster of symptoms but to your specific brain.
How Amen Clinics Can Help
Exposure to a traumatic event followed by the onset of symptoms like those above signals the need to dig deeper, rather than mask the symptoms alone. If you suspect that you or a loved one has PTSD, come to Amen Clinics for a comprehensive full evaluation using the Amen Clinics Method.
The Amen Clinics Method—developed through 29 years of clinical practice—uses a detailed clinical history, SPECT imaging to understand brain function, neuropsychological testing and laboratory studies to target treatment specifically to your brain, using the least toxic, most effective means.