3 Early Warning Signs of PTSD

Sep 01, 2023
3 Early Warning Signs of PTSD
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) affects millions of Americans from all walks of life. Treatment can help, especially when PTSD is detected early. Here’s what to look for.

As many as 10% of Americans experience post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), a chronic mental health issue triggered by direct or indirect exposure to trauma. Once associated solely with military duty, today, we know anyone can develop this disabling condition. 

PTSD can cause life-altering changes in thoughts and behaviors. Fortunately, it can be treated. The key is diagnosing it as early as possible.

At The Marcann Group, our team helps people in Glendale and Phoenix, Arizona, manage PTSD symptoms and improve their quality of life with custom PTSD treatment plans focused on whole-person healing. If you think you or a loved one might have PTSD, here are three early warning signs to look for.

1. Intrusive thoughts

Intrusive thoughts are one of the most common hallmarks of PTSD in all its stages. These thoughts occur regularly and cause panic, anxiety, or fear. Some thoughts are triggered by memories or other stimuli, while others appear without provocation.

Intrusive thoughts can be overwhelming, difficult to control, and very vivid and detailed. Unless they’re actively managed, they can make concentrating on tasks like work, school, or even relationships difficult. 

People experiencing intrusive thoughts may withdraw from activities they enjoy or exhibit signs of emotional distress or moodiness. Recurring thoughts also make falling and staying asleep challenging, increasing anxiety during the day.

2. Increased moodiness or irritability

PTSD involves overwhelming and seemingly uncontrollable feelings of fear or anxiety. Not surprisingly, it takes a toll on your mood. Most people with PTSD exhibit signs of irritability or emotional instability — experiencing emotional outbursts, like anger or crying, often without provocation.

PTSD can also cause hyperarousal — extreme reactions to being startled or in response to a perceived threat. Hyperarousal can present as angry reactions or excessive anxiety, as though the person is continually on guard against danger.

3. Changes in behavior, including sleep

People with PTSD may seek ways to limit their exposure to anxiety-provoking events — a coping mechanism known as avoidance behavior. You might notice your loved one no longer has an interest in activities they once enjoyed, or they actively avoid social or family situations where they would have to engage. 

Over time, avoidance behaviors can lead to emotional numbing and disconnection from others. You may notice that your loved one seems emotionally distant or detached, without noticeable feelings of joy or enjoyment.

PTSD can also cause changes in a person’s sleep patterns, including problems sleeping, sleeping too much, or dramatic changes in sleep schedules. Some people with PTSD may experience appetite changes, either eating more or less than usual.

Early treatment is the key

PTSD can be treated and managed with therapy, medication, lifestyle changes, or a combination of these approaches. The key to feeling better faster and preventing more serious symptoms is to seek medical treatment as early as possible.

When medical treatment is delayed, PTSD and its symptoms can quickly take over your life, interfering with work, relationships, social activities, and physical health. Our team is skilled in developing individualized treatment plans for PTSD, tailoring every plan to each person’s unique symptoms, triggers, lifestyle, and other factors for optimal relief and real results.

If you or a loved one is experiencing the warning signs of PTSD, we can help. To learn more, book an appointment online or over the phone with the team at The Marcann Group today.