Signs of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Escalate During Holidays

Not wanting to sit where they can’t see the door. Not wanting to mingle and socialize or avoiding social gatherings altogether. These are common symptoms for people with post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) that may be especially escalated during the holiday season.

Author of “I Always Sit With My Back to the Door,” Dr. Harry Croft, offers suggestions in a recent article for helping friends and family members work through symptoms of PTSD. With some basic strategies, the holiday season can be a time of good memories for people with PTSD and those who love them.

These suggestions include allowing the person with PTSD the freedom to choose not to attend a holiday gathering that may trigger a flashback memory. If the person chooses to attend the event, friends and family members can agree on a signal word or a hand gesture that may allow the person to quietly exit the scene or seek a moment away without interrupting the party.

Others with PTSD may be more comfortable attending an event at a home instead of a crowded public place, or vice versa, and family members are urged to talk to their loved one about this decision.

Symptoms of PTSD include:

  • Frequent flashbacks in the form of mental images, dreams or thought patterns about the traumatic event
  • A sense of detachment from relationships or from spiritual meanings associated with holidays
  • Avoidance of social gatherings
  • Frequently looking across crowds for perceived signs of danger
  • Feeling numb or without emotion, even during times when joy or happiness is expected

Like other mental illnesses, with professional treatment and support, people with PTSD can return to their quality of life and a desired state of wellness.