Laura Russell, Ph.D., Archive  

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Q. Why am I having these problems with the normal activities of daily living? Here are a few of the difficulties I experience: Leaving the house, answering the telephone, bathing and showering, and cleaning the house. Are these problems at all common with people with post traumatic stress disorder?


A. Yes, these are common problems with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. One set of symptoms that causes many people problems of this type is the avoidance symptoms. If you look in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual IV, this symptom reads: "Persistent avoidance of stimuli associated with the trauma and numbing of general responsiveness (not present before the trauma)"

How this translates into your life depends upon many factors: Your trauma, your current life, what would trigger your awareness of your trauma, and how your mind interprets all this.

  • People lose interest in their lives

  • Develop difficulties being intimate

  • Lose hope for their future

  • Narrow their range of feelings

  • Avoid thoughts, feelings, and conversations associated with their trauma

  • Avoid activities, places and people related to their trauma

My thinking on this is related to how I see recovery from PTSD. Many dramatic symptoms of PTSD involve reliving your trauma(s). I believe this is a healthy part of people trying to master their difficult life experiences. Your psyche constantly brings up the things you need to face in memories, thoughts, dreams, flashbacks, intrusive recollections, and physical responses.

However, this is exceedingly painful! So people do what they need to do to cut down on their pain, avoiding life.

How you deal with this is a little at a time. Picking small portion of an activity to force yourself into. Then with help from your friends, journal, and therapist, you face the feelings that surface. Then you pick a new small activity to face. And begin again experiencing painful feelings.

Doing it this way, instead of trying to figure it all out ahead of time allows your feelings to surface in manageable chunks. In this manner, you prevent the flooding and overload that causes people to become even less functional.






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