Could I have PTSD? | #MyCounselorSays

Jacob Wilhelm

Question:

Austin says, “At age 16 my dad was suicidal, my step mom was leaving, and I was hearing voices and planning commit suicide. Could that cause PTSD?”

Read more to find out what Christian Counselor Jacob Wilhelm says about the signs of PTSD, and the help and hope that is available to anyone struggling.

About the Author

This article is based on scientific evidence and clinical experience, written by a licensed professional and fact-checked by experts.

Jacob Wilhelm, MA, PLPC is a professional counselor specializing in Marriage Counseling, Family Therapy, and Anxiety & Depression in Men. You can schedule an appointment with Jacob for online counseling or in-person at our Columbia, Missouri counseling center.

Video Transcript

(Transcript is generated by a software and may have discrepancies from the video.)

Cassie

Welcome to My Counselor Online. I’m Cassie and this is My Counselor Says. My Counselor Says is where you submit a question, either for yourself, or for a friend,  and one of our incredible therapists takes their time and answers your personal question. So let’s go find out what My Counselor Says.

Jacob Wilhelm on the Pain of Traumatic Events

First of all, Austin, I appreciate your question. That is a really difficult situation and painful experience. There are a lot of layers to this question.

Seeing someone you’re close to commit suicide and seeing someone leave is scary. You feel helpless. You could feel abandoned, lonely, isolated; you could feel instability in many more things.

Going through this experience can take away feelings of safety, security, and belonging. The level that you saw and experienced these situations can change how you view relationships; they may even cause Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Signs of Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome (PTSD)

I’ll briefly describe the flags of PTSD. PTSD symptoms are generally grouped into four different types, such as intrusive memories, avoidance, negative changes in thinking and mood, and changes in physical and emotional reactions.

Intrusive memories may include having recurring unwanted memories of the events, flashbacks, or even nightmares. Avoidance may include avoiding thoughts, certain conversations, or even places and events. Negative changes in thinking and mood can include negative thoughts about yourself, hopelessness, and feeling detached. Changes in physical and emotional reactions can include things such as getting easily startled, always being on guard, and feeling irritable. This is not a complete list, but these are some things to try and notice.

What It’s Like to Have PTSD

I’d like to give a little analogy; PTSD, in some ways, is like sitting at your TV. You have the television remote, you sit down, you know what channel you want to watch because you know what show is about to come on. So let’s just say you click on channel seven. That’s where the show is, and that’s what you’re excited about.

But, the TV automatically goes to channel 23; On channel 23 is a specific memory. It’s the worst day. You try and change it again and again, but it keeps on going back to channel 23. Your mind and your body get flooded with this memory.

PTSD and Depression

PTSD and depression are closely related. They have some similar symptoms, such as changes in diet, like eating more or less, sleeping more or less, changes in social interactions, like becoming more isolated, and something called anhedonia, which is not being able to feel pleasure. So, even depression might be something to be on the lookout for.

For many people going through this, you can fill devastated, you can feel like there’s no one there for help, you can feel hopeless.

There is Help and Hope For Those Struggling

But don’t go through this experience alone. There is help. There are people that are ready and willing to listen. If you, or even if someone you know, is experiencing hopelessness or helplessness, don’t be afraid to share with them, to listen to them. But also, don’t be afraid to share the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, which is +1 (800) 273-8255. Thank you, Austin, for your question.

Cassie

Thank you so much for submitting that question!  We certainly love to answer your questions. If you have a question for yourself or a friend, you  can submit it using our web page and then look for the answer in an upcoming edition of our weekly e-newsletter.

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