What is avoidance?

Avoidance is a core symptom of PTSD, with at least one avoidance symptom being required for a diagnosis. People often try to cope with the trauma and escape painful or difficult emotions by avoiding the distressing memories, thoughts, or feelings associated with the event. Avoidance may be effective in the short-term but in the long run, it may be associated with increased severity of symptoms.

What is the evidence for avoidance in people with PTSD?

Moderate to low quality evidence finds three clusters of avoidance symptoms; avoidance of thoughts and feelings, activity, and memory.

Thoughts/feelings avoidance items include; I tried not to talk about the trauma, I tried not to think of things that remind me of something bad that happened to me, I tried not to think about the trauma, I avoided thinking about or talking about a stressful experience from the past, and I avoided thinking about or talking about the trauma.

Activity avoidance items include; I felt less connected to people after the trauma, I avoided situations because they reminded me of a stressful experience, I tried to avoid situations or people that reminded me of the trauma, I avoided situations that might remind me of something terrible that happened to me, I tried to avoid activities, people or places that remind me of the traumatic event, and I avoided activities that reminded me of the trauma.

Memory avoidance items include; I stayed away from reminders of the trauma, I tried to forget about the bad things that happened to me, I had trouble remembering important parts of the stressful experience, I could not remember much about bad things that have happened to me, I had difficulty remembering, and I had difficulty remembering some things that happened during the event/trauma.

August 2021

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Last updated at: 1:40 am, 29th August 2021
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Fact Sheet Technical Commentary
Tags:  Avoidance

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