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What Are the Different Types of PTSD Behavior?

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  • Written By: Jessica Ellis
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 29 July 2014
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Post-traumatic stress disorder, also known as PTSD, can cause a number of behavioral symptoms. As the psyche attempts to deal with the aftereffects of physical or mental trauma, PTSD behavior may emerge, warranting therapeutic care. Some of the most common types of PTSD behavior include avoidance or detachment symptoms and increased emotional sensitivity. While not always outwardly noticeable, people with post-traumatic stress disorder may also have vivid nightmares, or experience flashbacks of the trauma.

One strategy the mind may employ following a trauma is detachment. Some signs of PTSD behavior include refusing to speak about the trauma, losing interest in previously enjoyed pursuits, and changing or dropping regular routines. Relationships with close friends and family members can become strained because of PTSD behavior; victims may have difficulty relating to loved ones, or begin to sever emotional ties in order to detach further. While the mind may need to temporarily back away from the experience of a trauma, avoidance symptoms can do considerable harm to personal relationships and career goals over time. Moreover, a person enmeshed in avoiding the trauma may have difficulty healing, since he or she is unable to address the source of the psychological pain.

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Some PTSD behavior manifests as hypersensitivity, or through heightened emotional states. People with PTSD may have trouble controlling their tempers, get disproportionately angry over small problems, and have intense bouts of emotions. Some may experience a heightened level of paranoia regarding personal safety, and may feel extremely uncomfortable in situations that feel unsafe, or panic when startled. In some cases, heightened emotional PTSD behavior can lead to changes in alcohol or drug use, and can be a gateway to addiction.

One of the most common symptoms of PTSD is an inability to remember the trauma without re-living the experience. A PTSD patient may go over the events many times a day, not only remembering what happened, but experiencing the emotional stress, and even physical pain, each time the trauma is relived. Some may also experience vivid recurring nightmares of the trauma, leading to sleep disorders. Outward signs of PTSD flashbacks may include change in breathing patterns, sweating, inability to concentrate, and other symptoms of anxiety. A person experiencing a PTSD-related nightmare may thrash or talk in his or her sleep, be afraid to go to sleep, and may be unable to shake off the nightmare once wakened.

PTSD behavior can indicate that a person is having difficulty dealing with a trauma in a healthy manner. Even with therapeutic intervention, it may take trauma victims months or even years to gain control over the behavioral symptoms of this condition. In addition to creating a safe environment in which to speak about a traumatic experience, therapy can give trauma victims an outlet to discuss their symptoms and devise strategies for managing each issue.

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