PTSD: A set of survival responses

When did you first become aware of your Post-traumatic Stress symptoms, like flashbacks or repetitive and distressing thoughts, and being constantly jumpy?
Was it a numb dissociative state during the worst part of the trauma, but before it fully ended?
Was it a few hours later, or the day after the end of the trauma?
Was is a gradual change with symptoms increasing over time?
Did you have a delayed response to trauma, for instance several months or years but always avoided being near a person similar to your former attacker?
Were the PTSD symptoms triggered by a later event, like an additional trauma, a sudden trigger in the present, a major life event, bereavement, or for an unknown reason?

Typically the symptoms only become problematic after the trauma ends.

Post-traumatic Stress Disorder can be caused by many repetitive but brief traumas, by a single extended trauma (e.g., captivity) or by a major trauma. Looking back you may be able to recognize very early post-traumatic symptoms which didn’t seem to be a problem at the time.

Why don’t the symptoms seem problematic while the trauma is ongoing?

PTSD may well represent an adaptive set of behaviors that have survival advantage. In a situation where there is constant threat of harm, a state of perpetual physiological arousal, hypervigilance to threat in the environment, and phobic avoidance has arguably an atavistic [i.e. biological regressive or primitive] and adaptive function.
– Ethics and Mental Health: The Patient, Profession and Community (2013)

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4 thoughts on “PTSD: A set of survival responses

  1. Pingback: What is it like to be suffering from something that isn’t adequately recognized? | Trauma and Dissociation

  2. Pingback: PTSD – 30 Famous Trauma Survivors – Part 2 | Trauma and Dissociation

  3. Pingback: PTSD – 30 Famous Trauma Survivors – Part 3 | Trauma and Dissociation

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