Signs to Look Out for When You Love Someone with PTSD

Signs to Look Out for When You Love Someone with PTSD

PTSD: The Trauma Continues

The nights are the hardest. John* can have a perfectly fine day, enjoy dinner with his wife, play a game of pickup basketball with his son, and think his days in Afghanistan are completely behind him—finally. But at night, when the sky is dark, and he gets in bed, he lies still, frozen, terrified to fall asleep in case the nightmares come. When they do, he wakes up in a cold sweat, terrified at the memories from such a terrible time.

Sadly, John isn’t alone. In fact, his condition is staggeringly common. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD, affects 5.2 million Americans per year. There are two periods of trauma:

  1. When it actually occurs and you’re living with it
  2. And afterwards, when you have to cope with the residual consequences of trauma upon the psyche

When do you see the symptoms?

The symptoms of PTSD can start within three months of a psychologically traumatic event (such as war, natural disaster or sexual abuse), but they can also crop up months or even years after the fact, disrupting social, professional, and romantic relationships.

With this condition so common and so sudden to manifest, it’s important to be aware of changes that may signal PTSD in your loved ones and in yourself.

Symptom Breakdown

There are generally three categories of PTSD symptoms to look out for:

  • Intrusive memories
  • Avoidance and numbing behaviors
  • Arousal symptoms


Intrusive memories can include recurring memories of the trauma, flashbacks, distressing dreams (like John’s nightmares), and severe emotional distress to something that reminds the sufferer of the event. Some sufferers describe intrusive memories as a water faucet that can’t be turned off, instead flooding the person with unwanted thoughts.

People with avoidant symptoms will go out of their way to dodge circumstances that remind them of their trauma, even if it gets in the way of their daily life. This can include evading the place the trauma occurred, people who look like those involved, and activities that remind them of the trauma, like watching a movie about a similar topic. Numbing behaviors are self-soothing but dangerous activities that can help stop them from feeling the “water faucet,” like self-injury, alcoholism, or sex addiction. When faced with these symptoms, the suffers will isolate themselves from others and stop finding joy in activities they once loved.

Arousal involves constant vigilance and fear of a similar traumatic event occurring again, which floods the body with stress hormones and can lead to insomnia, irritability, and difficulty focusing.

Symptom Triggers & Treatments

The symptoms can be seen as a wave that ebbs and flows over time, decreasing in strength and then swelling until you’re at risk of drowning. These more difficult times can be sparked by the stresses of life, anniversaries of the trigger, or reminders of the event.

While antidepressants like Zoloft and Paxil are often prescribed in patients with PTSD, we at Cerebrum Health Centers think that non-pharmacological options are under-utilized in improving the lives of the Americans with this disorder. We recognize the tie between the mind and body and use central nervous system stimulation to holistically improve the health of our patients. The therapies we use make sure of targeted stimulation of the brain to build new neural connections, rebuild brain function, and let our patients get their lives back.

Love Them Through It

If you or your loved one is negatively impacted by the symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, fill out our form to inquire about a consultation. You could be on the road to recovery within days.

*name has been changed to protect our patient’s privacy