• PTSD and Intrusive Symptoms

    As I posted earlier, according to the DSM 5, PTSD can develop if you go through a traumatic event, if you witness a traumatic event happening, learning of the traumatic event happening to a close family member or friend, or repeated exposure to traumatic events (for example first responders).

    One category of PTSD symptoms are intrusive symptoms.

    This includes having recurrent, involuntary, and intrusive memories of the trauma. These memories are distressing, they come up unwanted and intrude into the person’s mind. Or the memory intrudes as a flashback, or a reliving of the traumatic incident.

    This can include dreams and nightmares, sometimes the content of these dreams is of the traumatic event, and sometimes it shares the core themes or emotions of the traumatic event, such as being chased, or the dream provoking fear.

    Typically, these intrusions are accompanied by mental and/or physical distress at the reminder of the trauma, and this distress can be quite intense or prolonged.

    It is important to remember that these symptoms are unwanted intrusions, that does not mean the person is purposely dwelling in the past.

    Learning how to get oneself back into the window of tolerance is vital to healing. Coping skills such as grounding or self-soothing skills can be used to cope with the symptoms itself.

    Therapy will be the thing that can help get at the root of the trauma and processing it will prevent continued intrusions.

    Medications can be used to help deal with the nightmares and to manage the strong emotions that may be provoked by these intrusions, but medications will not prevent the intrusions nor deal with what is causing them.