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An Overview Of Subclinical PTSD

Wendy Aporta is a marriage and family therapist who specializes in military and first responder individuals, families, and couples. She is proficient with clients experiencing PTSD and DID. For her, helping those with traumatic experience is not just a job, it is a vocation.

 
Executive Contributor Wendy Aporta

You might be familiar with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), a condition often arising from exposure to traumatic events, but there's another related condition called Subclinical PTSD.


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Subclinical PTSD is a mental health condition similar to PTSD, but it’s one that does not meet the full diagnostic criteria. People with subclinical PTSD may experience some of the same symptoms as people with PTSD, such as flashbacks, nightmares, anxiety, and avoidance. However, their symptoms may be less severe or less frequent. Some experts view Subclinical PTSD as a precursor to full-fledged PTSD, emphasizing the importance of early identification and intervention.


Identifying subclinical PTSD

There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question, as the symptoms of subclinical PTSD can vary from person to person. However, some common symptoms can include but not be limited to the following:


  • Recurrent Memories: Experiencing flashbacks or distressing dreams about the traumatic event

  • Elevated Anxiety: Particularly when reminded of the traumatic event

  • Avoidance: Deliberately evading places, people, or situations that evoke memories of the trauma

  • Sleep Disruptions: Difficulty initiating or maintaining sleep

  • Mood Disturbances: Susceptibility to irritability or feelings of detachment from others

  • Emotional Numbness: A sense of disconnection from emotions


If any of these symptoms resonate with you, it is best to seek a mental health professional who specializes in the treatment of trauma. They can provide clarity on whether you are experiencing Subclinical PTSD and offer guidance on the next steps.


Potential risk factors

Anyone can develop subclinical PTSD, but there are certain factors that may increase your risk, such as undergoing a traumatic event, a family history of mental health issues, or instances of substance misuse. Sometimes, individuals of a younger age are more likely to be identified as experiencing subclinical PTSD. Interestingly, studies also indicate that females might be more susceptible to subclinical PTSD than males. However, anyone who has experienced any kind of trauma may be struggling with post-traumatic stress, so it’s important for every individual to seek professional help sooner rather than later.


Approaches to treatment

Therapy can significantly help you to understand and manage your symptoms, develop coping skills, and process your trauma. Therapy can provide coping strategies and deeper insights into the trauma. Various therapeutic modalities, such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), exposure therapy, Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), and Accelerated Resolution Therapy (ART) have proven to be beneficial for many people.


Medication can also be helpful in reducing the symptoms of subclinical PTSD, such as anxiety, depression, and sleep problems. Some common medications used to treat subclinical PTSD include antidepressants


anti-anxiety medications, and sleeping pills, when necessary. You should see your primary care physician for a referral to a psychiatrist or psychiatric nurse practitioner, if necessary. 


In addition to professional treatment, there are some things you can do on your own to help manage subclinical PTSD symptoms, such as engaging in regular exercise, maintaining a balanced diet, ensuring adequate sleep, moderating caffeine and alcohol intake, and utilizing relaxation techniques. Nurturing personal relationships and maintaining a social circle can offer emotional support and a better sense of well-being.


If you think you or someone you know might be experiencing Subclinical PTSD, seeking professional assistance is crucial. Early intervention can pave the way for improved mental well-being.


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Wendy Aporta, Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist-Supervisor

Wendy Aporta is a marriage and family therapist who specializes in military and first responder individuals, families, and couples. She is proficient with clients experiencing PTSD and DID. For her, helping those with traumatic experience is not just a job, it is a vocation. Her most frequent modalities are Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT), Accelerated Resolution Therapy (ART), and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT). However, she is experienced in other modalities, including CBT, IFS, and SFBT, and utilizes whatever is best for her client's needs. She is a perpetual student of trauma, constantly staying abreast of the latest research and treatments to provide the best possible outcomes for her clients.

 

Research Used in the Production of this Article:


Please note that these are just a few examples of research references on subclinical PTSD. There are other studies that have been conducted on this topic.


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