Many people have no idea that they have suffered from a mental health condition at some point in their life. They assume because they were not diagnosed with it that it does not count. However, you do not have to a chronic illness to to show empathy or to understand that you too have had a mental episode. Most of us have experienced depression, though it is usually due to the loss of someone dear or job. They just think I bounced back, why can’t those with ‘clinical depression’ do the same? Sometimes these same people will not even say they were depressed, they will just say I was down or that it was a tough time because they do not want to label themselves (all subconsciously of course). Just watch the next time a friend says they were going through a tough time interject and say something like man you were really depressed huh and see if they will say the word themselves…most will not some may not even agree, some will repeat the same sentence of yea it was really tough (a subconscious safety mechanism).
Then you have those who have PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) who people associated most with war but can also be associated institutionalization, abuse, horrific crimes, first responders, and the like. These things require intense therapy; however, many of those who have PTSD do not show signs for years and those who do show signs but are in denial and may refuse treatment thereby harming the relationships around them. They tend to be touchy/ emotional about the some subjects without knowing it and even seem to become a different person. This person can be a 180 from the person you know. They feel a sense of emotional numbness, feel irritable or have angry or violent outbursts as well. They also tend to view everything in a negative way! It is just hard to see the positive in any situation. When you met them they were one person and as you got to know them more you learned of the the dark secret behind closed doors that no one else knows about (or few do) and you see what others do not and so you see the nightmares and agitation and negativity that they show you but will NOT show others sometimes.
I know 3 people who I am pretty positive have PTSD and it is amazing how they show those closest to them the symptoms because they have nightmares and get irate with them and listless in regular family activities, but how with some people who come rarely come to town they would be none the wiser because They put their best foot forward (the Mask) if you will! It almost makes you seem crazy if you are telling anyone about it because no one is seeing the behavior unless you record it or they admit to it.
The Mayoclinic offers tests and diagnosis below as well as suggestions on first appointment info., prescription info., and the like!
Tests and diagnosis
Post-traumatic stress disorder is diagnosed based on signs and symptoms and a thorough psychological evaluation. Your health care provider will likely ask you to describe your signs and symptoms and the event that led up to them. You may also have a physical exam to check for medical problems.
To be diagnosed with PTSD, you must meet criteria in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), published by the American Psychiatric Association. This manual is used by mental health providers to diagnose mental conditions and by insurance companies to reimburse for treatment.
DSM criteria for PTSD
Diagnosis of PTSD requires exposure to an event that involved or held the threat of death, violence or serious injury. Your exposure can happen in one or more of these ways:
- You experienced the traumatic event
- You witnessed, in person, the traumatic event
- You learned someone close to you experienced or was threatened by the traumatic event
- You are repeatedly exposed to graphic details of traumatic events (for example, if you are a first responder to the scene of traumatic events)
You experience one or more of the following signs or symptoms after the traumatic event:
- You relive experiences of the traumatic event, such as having distressing images and memories.
- You have upsetting dreams about the traumatic event.
- You experience flashbacks as if you were experiencing the traumatic event again.
- You experience ongoing or severe emotional distress or physical symptoms if something reminds you of the traumatic event.
In addition, for more than one month after the traumatic event you may:
- Try to avoid situations or things that remind you of the traumatic event
- Not remember important parts of the traumatic event
- View yourself, others and the world in a negative way
- Lose interest in activities you used to enjoy and feel detached from family and friends
- Feel a sense of emotional numbness, feel irritable or have angry or violent outbursts
- Engage in dangerous or self-destructive behavior
- Feel as if you’re constantly on guard or alert for signs of danger and startle easily
- Have trouble sleeping or concentrating
Your symptoms cause significant distress in your life or interfere with your ability to go about your normal daily tasks.
For children younger than 6 years old, signs and symptoms may include:
- Reenacting the traumatic event or aspects of the traumatic event through play
- Frightening dreams that may or may not include aspects of the traumatic event