Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder - Symptoms
post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can be
terrifying. They may disrupt your life and make it hard to continue with your
daily activities. It may be hard just to get through the day.
symptoms usually start soon after the traumatic event, but they may not happen
until months or years later. They also may come and go over many years. If the
symptoms last longer than 4 weeks, cause you great distress, or interfere with
your work or home life, you probably have PTSD.
Even if you
always have some symptoms, counseling can help you cope. Your symptoms don't
have to interfere with your everyday activities, work, and relationships.
Most people who go through a traumatic event have some symptoms
at the beginning but don't develop PTSD.
There are four types of
Reliving the event
Bad memories of the traumatic event can come back at any time. You may
feel the same fear and horror you did when the event took place. You may feel
like you're going through the event again. This is called a flashback.
Sometimes there is a trigger: a sound or sight that causes you to relive the
event. Triggers might include:
- Hearing a car backfire, which can bring back
memories of gunfire and war for a combat veteran.
- Seeing a car
accident, which can remind a crash survivor of his or her own
- Seeing a news report of a sexual assault, which may bring
back memories of assault for a woman who was raped.
Avoiding situations that remind you of the event
You may try to avoid situations or people that
trigger memories of the traumatic event. You may even avoid talking or thinking
about the event.
- A person who was in an earthquake may avoid
watching television shows or movies in which there are
- A person who was robbed at gunpoint while ordering at
a hamburger drive-in may avoid fast-food restaurants.
- Some people
may keep very busy or avoid seeking help. This keeps them from having to think
or talk about the event.
find it hard to express your feelings. This is another way to avoid
- You may not have positive or loving feelings
toward other people and may stay away from relationships.
- You may
not be interested in activities you used to enjoy.
- You may forget
about parts of the traumatic event or not be able to talk about them.
Feeling keyed up
may be alert and on the lookout for danger. This is known as increased
emotional arousal. It can cause you to:
- Suddenly become angry or
- Have a hard time sleeping.
- Have trouble
- Fear for your safety and always feel on
- Be very startled when someone surprises you.