How Do You Know If You Suffer from PTSD?

“What’s wrong with me?”  Thirty-eight-year-old Charlotte asked me.

“What makes you ask that?”

She whispered, “When I was a child, my dad beat me almost daily for any little thing.” Her eyes moistened, and she reached for tissue from her purse.

Charlotte said she didn’t live at home, and that situation occurred years ago.

“How do you feel now?”

“I have nightmares of my dad screaming at me and beating me with a belt. I wake up in a cold sweat.”

Can you identify with Charlotte in having nightmares?

I asked her how long she had been having those nightmares. She said for the last six or seven months.

“The term for those nightmares is ‘recurrent distressing dreams.’ What other symptoms do you have?”

Through tears she said, “Sometimes I feel as if I’m back home. I can hear my dad scream at me, and I feel every blow of his belt on my body.”

“I’m so sorry that’s happening to you. That must be scary. Those feelings are ‘flashbacks.’”

Do you have flashbacks?

“Under no circumstances will I go back to my parents’ home. I avoid my dad and places where he might go. I won’t call the house.”

I recognized Charlotte’s “persistent avoidance or efforts to avoid external reminders of” her dad.

Do you persistently avoid or try to avoid external reminders of a traumatic event?

“What about any negative changes in thought and feelings related to the trauma?

With a sigh, Charlotte said, “Men make mean parents. Having a man in the house is dangerous.”

She screamed, “I’m angry about what happened. I’m afraid if I visit my parents, my dad will beat me again. I have trouble concentrating and falling asleep or staying asleep.”

As she wiped her tears, Charlotte said she had felt that way longer than a month.

I said she did have symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder and advised her to find a therapist who specialized in PTSD.

If you are experiencing similar symptoms, I encourage you to do the same.

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Copyright by Yvonne Ortega, LPC, LSATP, CCDVC
All Rights Reserved. Used by Permission.
Yvonne is a Speaker, Author, Counselor, Cancer Survivor and
serves on the Board of Directors of Christians in Recovery.
She is the author of
“Moving from Broken to Beautiful: 9 Life Lessons to Help You Move Forward”
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