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Hello I'm 20 years old, female, and I've been a little worried ever since my boyfriend told me I might have post-traumatic stress disorder. For the last few months I've been feeling extremely anxious and suffering from a lot of stress, and sometimes even depression. I've also been experiencing panic attacks for the first time in my life.... and they are not fun. :(

I guess the reason for my boyfriend thinking I might have PTSD is from living with him and his family for the past 2 years. I moved from RI to OH to be with him, but he lived with his mother and his sister. I feel as though his sister had a big impact on my life over the years... and NOT in a good way. She is a 25 year old with a 5 year old daughter... and she is a drug attic. She's probably done everything you can think of, from cocaine to heroin, to marijuana, crack, and has been addicted to pain pills/narcotics for years. Since I've been living with her I've witnessed a lot of horrifying drama, fighting/screaming, physical abuse and arguing in the family and it usually starts from the drug attic sister. She is all about drama, like she lives for it. She lies, steals from EVERYONE, and manipulates peoples minds and emotions to the point where my boyfriend and his other family members can't tolerate her anymore. She has done so many horrible things to me, and has verbally abused me for so long that I feel emotionally drained and depressed/stressed out because of her.
I don't know why she is like this, but I have a few ideas:

One: shes a drug attic.
Two: she is bi-polar and depressed and maybe suffers from some personality disorder.
Three: she is not where she wants to be in life, so she takes her misery out on other people she finds as easy targets.......... like me.

So in conclusion, I've always been a quiet and calm person. I come from a very serene atmosphere and in my family there is ZERO drama. I have never EVERRR had problems with stress an anxiety before this, my life was great. And being with my boyfriend is great too, and I love him. But I CANNOT tolerate his family, and most of all: his sister...... just looking at her face makes me nervous (because I know she is going to go off on me) that my heart starts to pound against my chest and I feel very anxious and uncomfortable around her. And I think over the years she has caused me too much stress than I can handle. I'm not used to the fighting and screaming and it makes me scared and causes my heart to race.

I would appreciate if anyone could help or give an opinion on my story, and maybe tell me if my symptoms are from PTSD. Does anyone have stories similar to mine, or actually has PTSD?? Please help, and let me know!!

Thank you,
Lindsey xoxo

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Hi I am very sorry for your situation. I have PTSD. I'm not 100% sure if you do, because usually PTSD is accompanied by triggers and flashbacks. Say for instance someone grabs your wrist and you start crying and break down. But one thing that would help is some kind of anxiety medication like, Xanax. But if you can't get out of the house, I would be sure to not even tell the sister you have it. Really though the best way to get better, is to completely get out of that environment. It sounds like you love your boyfriend, and he loves you very much. But your health is what's most important at all times. Whether it means moving back home, or you and your boyfriend saving up to move out! I wish you the best of luck though.
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I have a degree in psychology and have done some research that is being published in the Journal of Clinical Psychology. PTSD is usually a condition where a person ruminates (continuously thinks about the trauma), flashbacks are very common, insomnia is also a common symptom. PTSD also causes anxiety, but can also cause a person to feel emotionally numb with cycles of anxiety, anger, and difficulty socializing with others. PTSD also can be a contributing factor in alcohol/drug abuse behavior as a person is trying to "self-medicate", and can be a contributing factor in suicidal ideation (thinking of suicide). PTSD is a very complex mental condition that can express itself in a variety of ways, as no person deals with trauma in the same way. Below is the diagnostic criteria for PTSD.

DSM-IV-TR criteria for PTSD
In 2000, the American Psychiatric Association revised the PTSD diagnostic criteria in the fourth
edition of its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV-TR). The
diagnostic criteria (Criterion A-F) are specified below.
Diagnostic criteria for PTSD include a history of exposure to a traumatic event meeting two
criteria and symptoms from each of three symptom clusters: intrusive recollections,
avoidant/numbing symptoms, and hyper-arousal symptoms. A fifth criterion concerns duration
of symptoms and a sixth assesses functioning.
Criterion A: stressor
The person has been exposed to a traumatic event in which both of the following have been
present:
1. The person has experienced, witnessed, or been confronted with an event or events that
involve actual or threatened death or serious injury, or a threat to the physical integrity of
oneself or others.
2. The person's response involved intense fear, helplessness, or horror. Note: in children, it
may be expressed instead by disorganized or agitated behavior.
Criterion B: intrusive recollection
The traumatic event is persistently re-experienced in at least one of the following ways:
1. Recurrent and intrusive distressing recollections of the event, including images, thoughts,
or perceptions. Note: in young children, repetitive play may occur in which themes or aspects
of the trauma are expressed.
2. Recurrent distressing dreams of the event. Note: in children, there may be frightening
dreams without recognizable content
3. Acting or feeling as if the traumatic event were recurring (includes a sense of reliving the
experience, illusions, hallucinations, and dissociative flashback episodes, including those that
occur upon awakening or when intoxicated). Note: in children, trauma-specific reenactment
may occur.
4. Intense psychological distress at exposure to internal or external cues that symbolize or
resemble an aspect of the traumatic event.
5. Physiologic reactivity upon exposure to internal or external cues that symbolize or resemble
an aspect of the traumatic event
Criterion C: avoidant/numbing
Persistent avoidance of stimuli associated with the trauma and numbing of general
responsiveness (not present before the trauma), as indicated by at least three of the
following:
1. Efforts to avoid thoughts, feelings, or conversations associated with the trauma
2. Efforts to avoid activities, places, or people that arouse recollections of the trauma
3. Inability to recall an important aspect of the trauma
4. Markedly diminished interest or participation in significant activities
5. Feeling of detachment or estrangement from others
6. Restricted range of affect (e.g., unable to have loving feelings)
7. Sense of foreshortened future (e.g., does not expect to have a career, marriage, children,
or a normal life span)
Criterion D: hyper-arousal
Persistent symptoms of increasing arousal (not present before the trauma), indicated by at
least two of the following:
1. Difficulty falling or staying asleep
2. Irritability or outbursts of anger
3. Difficulty concentrating
4. Hyper-vigilance
5. Exaggerated startle response
Criterion E: duration
Duration of the disturbance (symptoms in B, C, and D) is more than one month.
Criterion F: functional significance
The disturbance causes clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or
other important areas of functioning.
Specify if:
Acute: if duration of symptoms is less than three months
Chronic: if duration of symptoms is three months or more
Specify if:
With or Without delay onset: Onset of symptoms at least six months after the stressor
References
American Psychiatric Association. (2000). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders
DSM-IV-TR ( Fourth ed.). Washington D.C.: American Psychiatric Association.

I would probably say that your anxiety is triggered by your environment, and removing yourself from the situation would probably help. An antidepressant and a clonazepam may be helpful if you are unable to cope with standard "talk therapy". Since I am basing my conclusions on a small glimpse into your life, I would not think that you have PTSD, but if you match the criteria I have given above, you may infact have PTSD.

I hope that you feel better. I am sorry for your situation, and hope that you seek professional help. Your mental health in your hands. Again I am sorry you are having anxiety issues. I hope this helps.

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