Could You Have PTSD and Not Know It?

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is often associated with war veterans or survivors of catastrophic events. However, it’s a mental health condition that can quietly permeate anyone’s life, leaving them grappling with its effects without even realizing it. In this exploration, we delve into the subtle yet impactful manifestations of PTSD and how it may go unnoticed in our day-to-day existence.

Unseen Scars: The Silent Struggle Within

PTSD doesn’t always manifest in obvious ways. Unlike a physical injury, the scars it leaves are often hidden, lurking in the recesses of the mind. Flashbacks, nightmares, and intrusive thoughts may be dismissed as fleeting nuisances, but they could be indicators of an underlying struggle. According to psychiatrist and trauma expert Dr. Judith Herman, “Trauma is not like a stone that you can throw out of your pocket. It’s like a difficult relative you have to learn to live with.”

Some individuals with PTSD become adept at concealing their emotional turmoil. They may maintain successful careers, engage in social activities, and even foster healthy relationships. Termed as high-functioning PTSD, these individuals may not recognize the source of their occasional emotional turbulence. According to Psychotherapist Kate Kendrick, surviving a trauma may cause you to have negative thoughts about yourself or about the world. You may feel hopeless about your future, not sure if you can stay safe.

To identify potential PTSD, it’s crucial to be aware of subtle signs that often go unnoticed. Persistent feelings of irritability, hypervigilance, and emotional numbness can be red flags. According to mental health advocate and author Melody Beattie, “The fact that we’re still here doesn’t mean that everything happened the way it was supposed to.” Acknowledging these subtle signs is the first step towards understanding and addressing the possibility of PTSD.

A puzzling aspect of PTSD is that some individuals may not even recognize their suffering. The mind’s defense mechanisms can push traumatic experiences into the background, creating a disconnect between the individual and their own emotions. Licensed Therapist Liz Miller states that while many survivors disconnect and reject support, some lean heavily on loved ones and may unintentionally end up draining the emotional and material resources of a partner who is trying to be supportive.

The Power of Validation: Seeking Help

Acknowledging the presence of PTSD is a pivotal moment in the healing process. Seeking validation and professional help is essential. Whether through therapy, support groups, or online resources, reaching out for help is a courageous step towards reclaiming one’s mental well-being. According to Dr. Matthew Tull, whichever therapy you choose, getting help can provide you with a safe place to express and approach your emotions. Seeking social support from trusted loved ones can also provide a safe way to express your emotions.

In recent years, the landscape of mental health support has evolved, with online therapy emerging as a convenient and accessible option. According to Kendra Cherry, MSEd, online therapy refers to psychotherapy or counseling services conducted over the internet. Online therapy allows you to connect with a licensed therapist or counselor using any device that has an internet connection, such as a computer, tablet, or smartphone. Online therapy platforms offer a range of services, from counseling to specialized trauma-focused interventions. The anonymity and flexibility of online therapy can be particularly appealing to those hesitant to seek traditional in-person help.

Finally, while the journey towards healing may be challenging, it is undoubtedly possible. Hope Therapy & Counselling Services emphasized that healing from past trauma takes time, and it’s important to be patient and compassionate with oneself. Remember, you are not defined by your past. By addressing past trauma and working towards internal validation, it is possible to cultivate healthy relationships built on a foundation of self-worth and self-acceptance. 

In the quest to understand PTSD and its subtle nuances, it’s crucial to recognize the signs, break through the stigma, and embrace the support available. Online therapy, with its accessibility and diverse resources, stands as a beacon of hope for those navigating the complexities of PTSD, offering a space where the silent struggles can find a voice and healing can begin.

About the Author

Dr. Rahmany began her academic journey at San Francisco State University, earning a bachelor’s degree in psychology. She furthered her studies at the California School of Professional Psychology, obtaining a master’s and a doctorate in clinical forensic psychology. She started her career at the California Department of Corrections and then joined Cyti Psychological and became the National Clinical Director. Her diverse experiences have reinforced her commitment to psychology and its impact on communities.

The information on this page is not intended to be a substitution for diagnosis, treatment, or informed professional advice. You should not take any action or avoid taking any action without consulting with a qualified mental health professional. If you are in a crisis or any other person may be in danger,  these resources can provide you with immediate help:
Suicide and Crisis Lifeline 988
24 Hour Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1.800.273.8255
Crisis Text Line Text TALK to 741741