When FDR said: "We have nothing to fear but fear itself," he was right. PTSD is the fear following an intial trauma -- that caused you to feel vulnerable -- of retraumatization, that you're afraid will finish the job and destroy you.
You listen to the stock market reports as if rubber necking a car accident. And when you hear about that 500+ and then 600+ point drop in the Dow, you're not merely disappointed, you feel a kick in the stomach and get nauseated or light headed. Your boss reassures you that there will not be any more layoffs, but his voice seems tentative. Nauseated and light-headed again. You're speaking less and less to people around you. You've lost your sense of humor. Even if you're a calm person, you have to struggle with your own road rage if someone cuts you off in traffic. Your drinking is up. And as far as dieting, exercising, taking care of yourself or having a healthy happy sex life? Forgetaboutit.
If many of the following signs and symptoms hold true, there's a good chance that you have Financial PTSD.
Re-experiencing the traumatic event
PTSD symptoms of avoidance and emotional numbing
PTSD symptoms of increased arousal
Other common symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder
What's going on that may be causing Financial PTSD?
You are continually being traumatized and re-traumatized, can't get your footing and instead of becoming stronger, you're becoming more anxious. That is because of the 4 D's of Financial PTSD: Debt, Dependency, Distrust, Denial.
What can you do?
Anything that gives you a sense of control and community will help.
To center yourself you might do well to heed and follow the famed Serenity Prayer (so embedded in the fabric of 12-step programs): "God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference." Trite as that may sound, it has stood the test of time as a way of revealing a deep truth about control to you and to allowing you to turn to faith and or something referred to as a "higher power" (for those of you who are not religious). At the very least, saying it and leaning into it when you do, may enable you to take a few slow deep breaths and e-x-h-a-l-e, which is always a great centering device when you're feeling stressed.
Next, realize that knowledge is not just power; it also helps gives you control over anxiety. To that end you could start to take a Financial Literacy (see resources below) course to better understand money and finances. That way you won't feel so dependent on and vulnerable with institutions you may have trouble trusting at this point.
Want something more practical and tactical?
Try the following:
Regarding tapping into your community, you can seek the same treatment that soldiers with PTSD or rape victims (and doesn't a part of you feel raped by the economic events of the past couple years?) including support groups, seeking out a therapist or psychiatrist.