Avoidance symptoms are Criterion C of PTSD in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, Version 5 (DSM-5). The DSM defines avoidance as avoiding internal things (like memories, thoughts, or feelings) or avoiding external things (like people, places, and things that remind us of the trauma). Those of us with PTSD will go way out of our way to avoid anything that reminds us of our trauma.
This makes a lot of sense: why wouldn’t we want to dodge memories and reactions that make us feel crazy? This is why drug and alcohol disorders are common with PTSD. Numbing the pain is easier.
Friends, we’ll go way, way out of our way to avoid anything that reminds us of our trauma. While this may seem downright insane to other people, it makes total sense in the context of PTSD.
Common examples are:
· Stop watching the news or using social media because of stories or posts that remind us of a trauma
· Go out of our way to stay away from the scene of our attack or places that remind us of the assault
· Running errands at odd hours to avoid crowds
· Arriving early so we can choose a seat away from the window
· Avoidance can get complex, and we will go to extremes to avoid potential triggers.
Our brain’s job is (1) to keep us alive, and (2) to understand meaning. Avoidance is incredibly logical in the context of PTSD, so be let's easy on ourselves.
What is your experience with avoidance? We value your feedback and ideas! Reach out on our Community Facebook Page!
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