Trauma and extreme stress create symptoms that are normal for the abnormal situations that you were in. This symptom checklist might make it easier to understand what is going on with you. While you should not diagnose yourself without a professional, it may help you make sense of what is going on. If the symptoms are interfering with your daily life, it may be time to go for support and get professional help.
Hypervigilance: hiding, sitting with back to walls, feeling watched, startle response, fear of being alone, constantly alert...fight or flight mode
Alienation from body: not at home in body, no sense of body image, avoidance of mirrors, layers of clothing, extremely private, manipulating body weight to avoid intimacy, often numb, detached in body
Dissociation: splitting from event, removing self from feelings/emotions/pain, feelings of viewing self, physical numbing, depersonalization of memory/pain, feeling like watching self on video, getting so focused on something can tune everything/everyone else out, inappropriate behavior(laughing at funeral/someone’s pain), driving from one place to another and not remembering how got there, losing time
Anger issues: inability to recognize/express own anger, fear of someone’s anger/rage, hostility towards certain people (reminder of other side in war), constant anger, fear of losing control, triggered into anger with various voices, colors, smells, etc.
Suicidal: ideation/attempt, obsessive thoughts about suicide, self mutilating behaviors, daring the fates with high risk behavior, accident prone
Sense of pervading fear: no sense of power, victimology, inability to set limits, fear of being left, phobias, compulsive behavior about locking doors, checking rooms, paranoid
Addictions: behaviors to cover pain/fear/anger/sadness/helplessness, driven compulsive behavior may be acceptable in workaholism, but still being used to numb out
Memory losses: blocks of any part of history, not explained by coma
Feeling of awful secret: feeling shame of having done something and can’t share and others wouldn’t understand
Anxiety/panic attacks: heart speeds, chest feels pressure/squeezed, can’t breathe, feeling dizzy/light headed, total debilitating fear/immobilization, feeling like dying, periodic or constant attacks
Sleeping disorders: night terrors, nightmares, awakening nightly at the same time, fear of dark, fear of falling asleep, doing things to avoid falling asleep, waking up screaming/yelling/ body jerks/movements while asleep, never getting REM sleep, sleep deprivation, waking up still feeling tired
Depression: periodic or constant sadness that feels bottomless, seeing only the negative in people/events, feeling helpless, worthless and not wanting to wake up, but no active plan of suicide, radical change in eating/sleeping habits, feeling hopeless, jaded, cynical, bored with no joy
Trust issues: mistrusting or trusting indiscriminately, feeling isolated and different
Self esteem: low self esteem, intense shame, need to be invisible, feeling bad for being alive, feeling useless, feelings others are more worthy and more important, behavior puts self second or last, arrogance and facade of feeling superior, feeling like a victim or perpetrator
Body memories: unexplained pains, bruises, marks, splotches. Body somatizes the trauma/stress...Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, fibromyalgia and other autoimmune diseases may be escalated by intense stress/trauma
Feeling crazy/different: feeling like an outcast, unreal, create fantasy world/relationships, desire to change name or identity
Physical signs: gagging response, swallowing constantly, lower immune system, constantly sick, aches, headaches, having somatic symptoms that can’t be explained by the doctor
Flashbacks/abreactions: reverting to other places, reliving a memory, being triggered to a past time frame of trauma, hallucinating which can be done visually, olfactory, auditorally, tactile or taste (metal, blood, etc.) Flashbacks can be done in blips...pieces of feelings, pictures, sounds, tastes, etc. Finding self hiding under a table, closet, shaking uncontrollably, body jerking, falling into a trance state, agitated body movement, looking around and not recognizing where you are, feeling different in your body, feeling transported in time
Eating disorders: not wanting to eat, no joy in eating, bulimia or anorexia, overeating, binge eating
Again, you cannot diagnose yourself, but these symptoms may help you see that you are exhibiting behavior that is normal for abnormal past circumstances. If you had stress/trauma/abuse as a child, the current stress may be bringing up old trauma/stress. Again, remember that stress/trauma is cumulative.

Karen Hutchins, MA LPC
Clinical Director, Ravens Grove Foundation

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