Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental health disorder that affects millions of people around the world. It’s caused by experiencing or witnessing a traumatic event that causes intense fear, helplessness, or horror. Some of the most common causes of PTSD include violence, sexual assault, natural disasters, car accidents, and warfare.
While PTSD is primarily a mental health disorder, it can also cause physical symptoms. In fact, the way PTSD physically manifests in the body is one of the key ways this disorder is diagnosed. Let’s take a closer look at some of the ways PTSD can impact the body.
1. Chronic Pain
One of the most common physical symptoms of PTSD is chronic pain. Individuals with PTSD may experience pain in their muscles, joints, bones, and other areas of the body. This pain may come and go or persist for long periods of time. It’s often described as a dull ache or a sharp, shooting pain.
2. Tension and Stiffness
PTSD can also cause tension and stiffness in the body. This is because the body is constantly on high alert, which causes the muscles to contract and remain tense. This tension can cause stiffness and make it difficult to move easily.
3. Gastrointestinal Problems
Individuals with PTSD may also experience gastrointestinal problems such as stomach pain, bloating, and diarrhea. This is because the digestive system is closely connected to the brain and can be impacted when an individual experiences high levels of stress.
Another physical symptom of PTSD is headaches. These may occur frequently and be more intense than typical headaches. They can be caused by tension in the muscles or changes in blood flow.
5. Rapid Heartbeat
PTSD can also cause a rapid heartbeat or palpitations. This is because the body is responding to the perceived threat of danger, even when there is no immediate threat present. This can cause a rush of adrenaline and a rapid heartbeat.
6. Sleep Disorders
Individuals with PTSD may also experience sleep disorders such as insomnia or nightmares. These sleep disruptions can cause fatigue and impact overall physical health.
It’s important to note that not all individuals with PTSD will experience physical symptoms. However, for those who do, it’s important to address these symptoms as part of a comprehensive treatment plan. This may include therapy, medication, and lifestyle changes to manage stress and promote overall health and wellbeing. If you or someone you know experiences symptoms of PTSD, it’s important to seek help from a mental health professional.