How can I tell if someone has PTSD?
Can I help my friend who has PTSD?
Shouldn't we leave this to the professionals?
How can I learn more?
From Canadian Mental Health Association:
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental illness. It involves exposure to trauma involving death or the threat of death, serious injury, or sexual violence.
Something is traumatic when it is very frightening, overwhelming and causes a lot of distress. Trauma is often unexpected, and many people say that they felt powerless to stop or change the event. Traumatic events may include crimes, natural disasters, accidents, war or conflict, or other threats to life. It could be an event or situation that you experience yourself or something that happens to others, including loved ones.
PTSD causes intrusive symptoms such as re-experiencing the traumatic event. Many people have vivid nightmares, flashbacks, or thoughts of the event that seem to come from nowhere. They often avoid things that remind them of the event—for example, someone who was hurt in a car crash might avoid driving.
PTSD can make people feel very nervous or ‘on edge’ all the time. Many feel startled very easily, have a hard time concentrating, feel irritable, or have problems sleeping well. They may often feel like something terrible is about to happen, even when they are safe. Some people feel very numb and detached. They may feel like things around them aren’t real, feel disconnected from their body or thoughts, or have a hard time feeling emotions.
People also experience a change in their thoughts and mood related to the traumatic event. For some people, alcohol or drugs can be a way to cope with PTSD.
Take the time to learn more about the symptoms of PTSD and treatment options including self-care.
A number of paper-and-pencil tests have been developed to assist clinicians and researchers in evaluating PTSD symptoms. If you have experienced, witnessed, or learned about an event that caused you to feel intense fear or helplessness, these tests may be useful. However, a self-assessment won't confirm whether you have PTSD—only a trained mental health professional can provide a conclusive diagnosis of any mental health condition.
Take the PTSD Self-Assessment to determine if your friend needs medical attention.
You can also learn some Self-Help Strategies for PTSD to assist your friend.
Be aware that children are particularly vulnerable to PTSD and react differently than adults.
PTSD is a serious medical condition that can affect both children and adults that have experienced war trauma in their lives. The good news is that PTSD is treatable. Unfortunately, many health care providers are not always able to link the symptoms with the diagnosis. By making people aware of PTSD, including individuals whose friends or loved ones have experienced a traumatic situation, is one of the best ways to assist in accurate diagnosis - diagnosis that can lead to treatment, and eventually, healing, growth and recovery.
If in doubt seek out medical help. There is lots of help available in Canada.