High Functioning PTSD and Trauma

High Functioning PTSD and Trauma

Evidence Based Trauma and PTSD Treatment at Icarus Nevada

High functioning PTSD can be hard to spot if you are not under the care of an experienced professional who knows what to look for. But hope for a recovery from PTSD is not lost, and Icarus can help.

If you are suffering from trauma, no matter how well you may function in daily life, we understand what hidden pain can do, and offer effective support options for a full recovery from trauma. Effective post-traumatic stress disorder requires a special touch from clinical experts and experience with evidence-based trauma treatments.

What should you know about the many types of trauma treatment you can receive at Icarus Behavioral Health Nevada?

Our facilities will connect you with mental health solutions and programs that offer professionals who can see through your high-functioning PTSD to get to the traumatic events underneath. Allow us to help you through these very difficult experiences and help you exit survival mode and start to thrive.

Keep reading to learn more and, remember, our caring team is available at any time if you would like to reach out for a confidential discussion and to learn more about how we can assist you.

What is High-Functioning Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder? 5 Common Symptoms

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

When it comes to high-functioning PTSD, you might be only mildly aware of some of your symptoms. Some people never even receive negative feedback from their loved ones and don’t notice the C-PTSD alterations to their personality, thought patterns, and actions.

If you think you may be struggling with a case of high-functioning PTSD, here are some symptoms to look out for and consider in your evaluation.

1) Internal Symptoms of High-Functioning PTSD are Manifesting

First, PTSD and Complex PTSD tend to show up in your thought processes. You may have a difficult time viewing the world correctly and have an influx of intrusive thoughts. Oftentimes, a person dissociates when things become too overwhelming which affects memory and alters perception. You may also have a challenging time with emotional numbness or hypervigilance.

Maybe you deal with nightmares that keep you up at night or flashbacks that interrupt your daily life. No matter what symptom surfaces, it is often internal and can then be masked from the rest of the world.

Of course, this often leads to a decrease in the quality of your relationships with others. While you may not notice the symptoms, close friends and family might be able to spot the changes in you.

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2) Difficulties Start Appearing Despite Your Best Efforts

For many people with high-functioning PTSD, they are capable of masking the symptoms of their illness for quite some time. While they may deal with the flashbacks and ever-present anxiety that comes with exposure to trauma, they can generally hide the severity of symptoms from even family and friends. To hide it, they may refuse to discuss their experiences.

Someone with this type of high-functioning PTSD might project high self-esteem even if they feel the opposite internally.

However, they may only be able to keep symptoms at bay for so long. If you are dealing with PTSD and can no longer participate in everyday life due to the symptoms, it is time to seek help. If you know that you are struggling beneath the surface, there is no shame in reaching out to Icarus Nevada for help through our proven, evidence-based trauma treatment programs.

3) Compartmentalizing Trauma’s Effects on Day-to-Day Life

If you have post-traumatic stress disorder, even the awareness of your trauma affects how you feel and function. You might be able to live a highly functional life, but only if you can keep the memories of what happened to you separate from your daily responsibilities and lifestyle.

Some people become quite skilled at compartmentalizing their trauma. A person develops this skill out of necessity, allowing them to live their entire life without having to cope with PTSD symptoms. There is one major problem here though: They cannot ever move on from the trauma until the person realizes and accepts what has happened.

Even if you think you are dealing with it well and are successful professionally, you might still need help and a proper diagnosis.

4) Somatic Symptoms Create Other Health Issues

Sleep Disorder

Did you know that PTSD can also present with unexplained medical conditions? In many cases, people will pay more attention to the physical symptoms in their bodies over the mental signs they need counseling or therapeutic intervention. There is an endless list of associated medical conditions that you may start to experience.

If you know that you have lived through a trauma injury or event, you should pay careful attention to the physical signs your body is putting out there. It is quite common for those with high-functioning PTSD to have high blood pressure, blurry vision, gastrointestinal issues, sleep disorders, and even an inexplicable pain that lingers without cause.

5) PTSD Influences Extreme Personality Presentation

Maybe you feel like the above symptoms don’t apply to you but you know something isn’t quite right after living through a traumatic experience. Whether you have lived through an inescapable ugly reality or childhood trauma, your PTSD symptoms might go beyond physical sensations.

Your emotional brain and nervous system can only handle so much. Those with high-functioning PTSD often have radical shifts in their personality or may meet the criteria for a personality disorder.

While C-PTSD symptoms and treatment are technically and clinically separate from approaches used to treat borderline personality, research indicates that there is some overlap between the two. This is particularly true in cases of either a horrible past or childhood abuse we have buried deeply, but that tends to resurface in adulthood.

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Success in Professional Life Does Not Mean PTSD is Gone

At some point, life may have intervened and it didn’t happen necessarily the way you thought it would. While your nervous system might be vigilant for the next threat, you might have emotional numbness or feel emotionally challenged. However, you may still have a successful professional life because you can keep your trauma separate from this area of your life. Particularly in the case of those suffering from religious trauma, but also for other causes of trauma, high functioning in daily life can make the struggle internally all but invisible.

This is one of the main reasons why someone may go quite some time without seeking expert help for PTSD. After all, it does not incapacitate them so it must not be that bad. This is faulty thinking and could compound the effects of your trauma over the years that you refused treatment.

At some point, life improved for you professionally but you may notice that you act differently. If you have a fragile sense of maintaining your success by a thread, it might be time to start thinking about how C-PTSD affects you.

How Can a Mental Health Professional Help High Functioning PTSD?

Talk Therapy for Individualized Help

When it comes to having experienced a traumatic event, you need some help implementing coping strategies and processing what happened to you. Even if you experience only mild PTSD symptoms, mental illness can have far-reaching effects on your overall well-being.

Here are some options that a mental health professional may give you to treat PTSD symptoms.

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing

One of the newer and most evidence-based therapies to help you cope with a trauma response is Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR). How does this treatment work and how can you benefit from having a therapist who specializes in EMDR?

Under this umbrella, a therapist will have you think about the experience you have lived through. Often, the more that loop plays in your mind, the more stuck you become in your patterns and ways of acting and thinking. With their help, you will follow some eye movement protocols that allow you to process that traumatic event in a new way.

According to the research, EMDR has been proven to improve diagnosis, reduce PTSD symptoms, and reduce trauma-related symptoms. All of this could be very beneficial for anyone struggling with PTSD, not just those who are high-functioning.

Talk Therapy for Individualized Help with Trauma Response

Of course, you will also have talk therapy on a one-on-one basis when diagnosed with high-functioning PTSD. In a session with a trained therapist or counselor, you will get to the root of the traumatic event that shapes how you view the world. They can employ a variety of techniques that help you deal with cognitive distortions and implement healthier coping strategies when triggered.

Talk therapy allows your provider to see what you need the most help with and tailor your treatment to your unique challenges.

There is no one path forward when you have PTSD or high-functioning C-PTSD. Instead, be open to lots of different approaches like cognitive behavioral therapy and dialectical behavioral therapy to equip you with the tools needed to live your life to the fullest.

Group Therapy for Peer Support and Psychoeducation

Group Therapy for Peer Support

Many people with post-traumatic experiences are a little more closed off about what they have been through. This makes it hard for them to connect with the people who are closest to them for fear of being misunderstood or judged. Group therapy allows you to learn more about others facing similar struggles.

This gives you a great resource to learn new skills and to gain peer support. In a group setting, you can also learn more about your PTSD and how to best manage it on a day-to-day basis. Both skills training and psychoeducation are important components of our group therapy program at Icarus Behavioral Health Nevada.

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Allow Icarus in Nevada to Support Your Healing Process

You might feel like you are completely functional after experiencing any type of trauma or complex trauma. While you may be able to survive with high-functioning PTSD for years or even decades, it can eventually catch up with you and require a more aggressive strategy. The brain prefers not to deal with it, but at Icarus Behavioral Health Nevadam, our dedicated staff can help you make meaningful steps toward true healing.

We can help you identify the right approaches for treatment so that you can overcome overwhelming PTSD symptoms. Allow our warm and welcoming admissions staff to welcome you into our facility with a quick and confidential call to verify your insurance benefits. Reach out to us today to learn more!


  1. Gupta M. A. (2013). Review of somatic symptoms in post-traumatic stress disorder. International review of psychiatry (Abingdon, England), 25(1), 86–99.
  2. Cloitre, M., Garvert, D. W., Weiss, B., Carlson, E. B., & Bryant, R. A. (2014). Distinguishing PTSD, Complex PTSD, and Borderline Personality Disorder: A latent class analysis. European journal of psychotraumatology, 5, 10.3402/ejpt.v5.25097.
  3. Wilson, G., Farrell, D., Barron, I., Hutchins, J., Whybrow, D., & Kiernan, M. D. (2018). The Use of Eye-Movement Desensitization Reprocessing (EMDR) Therapy in Treating Post-traumatic Stress Disorder-A Systematic Narrative Review. Frontiers in psychology, 9, 923.
  4. Lewis, C., Roberts, N. P., Andrew, M., Starling, E., & Bisson, J. I. (2020). Psychological therapies for post-traumatic stress disorder in adults: systematic review and meta-analysis. European journal of psychotraumatology, 11(1), 1729633. 

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