ptsd or just a memory?
October 26, 2012 8:47 AM   Subscribe

PTSD flashback or just a vivid memory?

Hi all.

I, rather often (several times a day at times) have these episodes where I am remembering a traumatic experience. At times, I even move my arms and hands to match what I'm remembering(I notice because when I snap out of it my hands are in weird places: on my face, across my chest, etc, or I have felt a very strong impetus to move). This has even happened while I am driving(!!!).

Does this make it a "flashback" as opposed to a distracting vivid memory? (I have lots of vivid memories of things, which block out other thoughts for a moment, but I don't move to those and they're not always bad things.) This is the distinction I am asking about.

(I have been diagnosed with PTSD, but I wasn't told why/what I said in my psychiatric evaluation to warrant that diagnosis.)
posted by lettuchi to Health & Fitness (6 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: I would definitely say that's a flashback.
posted by batmonkey at 9:02 AM on October 26, 2012

Not sure anyone can answer this here with the limited info available.

Do you remember details of what you were recalling? Is it something you specifically remember happening in the past? Or are these vague fugue states?

You've been diagnosed with PTSD, but you have no idea why or what the original trauma was?

If that's the case, you might want to consider new psychiatric or therapeutic help to get more concrete answers. And this goes without saying, but you should not be driving (at all) if you are prone to blackout episodes.

I wish you the best!
posted by hamandcheese at 9:02 AM on October 26, 2012

IANAD, but this sounds a bit like recurring partial seizures-- which can have deja-vu or memory-like qualities. Have you checked with a neurologist at all?
posted by Bardolph at 9:08 AM on October 26, 2012 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Speaking from experience, one of the defining things that makes it PTSD and not just "bad memories" is that there are physical symptoms that accompany the intrusive thoughts. Hand and arm motions are definitely physical symptoms. It took me many years to admit, but this is something you need help with from a therapist you trust. Don't be like me and suffer when you don't have to. Memail me if you need any extra information or just need a sympathetic internet ear to listen.
posted by seasparrow at 9:30 AM on October 26, 2012 [2 favorites]

Your doctor should be willing and able to explain the basis of their diagnosis. If you contact the office where you were diagnosed with PTSD, you should be able to get more information from the doctor and at the very least, your medical records where there may be notes about your diagnosis.

Here is a brief overview of PTSD from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders IV.
posted by dottiechang at 2:15 PM on October 26, 2012

I'll go with flashback too. At my worst, I had full sensory ones with the accompanying pain of the actual event.

I'm nthing therapist. And either new doctor or some real answers from your current doctor where the PTSD dx came from.

If you ever need an ear, drop me a PM.
posted by kathrynm at 5:40 PM on October 27, 2012

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