How can I tell if I have PTSD?

head in hands

It's an astounding fact that since 2003, more than 2.0 million American and coalition troops have served in military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, with thousands deployed multiple times.

The intensity and scale of the combat experienced by the serving personnel has not experienced for decades and will inevitably lead short and long term issues for the veterans of these conflicts.

This equates to a potential ticking-time bomb of 400,000 suffers of PTSD, the majority in the US, but also significant numbers in the UK.

It's important to recognize the condition as early as possible, so what are the indications that you or a family member may be suffering from PTSD?

First question is have you or they experienced a traumatic event of the sort described at the start of this article?

stress fireman

If so, do you:

  • Have vivid memories, flashbacks or nightmares?
  • Avoid things that remind you of the event?
  • Feel emotionally numb at times?
  • Have to keep very busy to cope?
  • Feel depressed or exhausted?
  • Feel irritable and constantly on edge, but can't see why?
  • Eat more than usual, or use more drink or drugs than usual?
  • Feel out of control of your mood?
  • Find it more difficult to get on with other people?

If you are experiencing one or more of these symptoms you may be suffering from PTSD.

The condition has often been overlooked, misdiagnosed and generally neglected by governments of all countries for many years, so whilst we would all hope that this will change over time, we also should recognise that sufferers need to be able to helpful advice, make connections with people in a similar situation and access to services to help them stay in control of the condition.

Part of the issue with PTSD is that it can go unrecognized. This is a problem as unless the condition is recognised, treatment cannot begin. So why is it that given more awareness of the condition, PTSD still goes recognised in so many cases?

What can I do about it?

First thing you should do is to go and see a doctor or other healthcare professional.

In addition, there are things you can do to take control. Try to start doing the normal things of life that have nothing to do with your past experiences of trauma. This could include finding friends, doing regular exercise, learning relaxation techniques, developing a hobby or having pets. This helps you to put normality back in your life, re-connect with yourself and those around you and slowly put the pieces back together.

The My Post-traumatic stress disorder site has been established by ex-servicemen to offer information to suffers of PTSD and help them connect with other people affected by the condition.

Within the site you will find basic information about the condition, links to in-depth features and publications and to products and services that can help you beat the condition.