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Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder - Symptoms

Feeling numb

You may find it hard to express your feelings. This is another way to avoid memories.

  • You may not have positive or loving feelings toward other people and may stay away from relationships.
  • You may not be interested in activities that you enjoyed in the past.
  • You may forget about parts of the traumatic event or not be able to talk about them.

Feeling keyed up

You 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 irritable.
  • Have a hard time sleeping.
  • Have trouble concentrating.
  • Fear for your safety and always feel on guard.
  • Be very startled when someone surprises you.

Other symptoms

Other symptoms also may include:

  • Physical symptoms for no reason you can think of (called somatic complaints).
  • Feelings of shame, despair, or hopelessness.
  • Difficulty controlling your emotions.
  • Problems with family or friends.
  • Impulsive or self-destructive behavior.
  • Changed beliefs or changed personality traits.

ptsd_marvin.jpg

One Man's Story:

"People don't understand the emotion tied to flashbacks. It's like it's happening all over again, and you're having the same physiological reactions."— Marvin

Read more about Marvin.

PTSD in children and teens

Children can have PTSD too. They may have the symptoms listed above and/or symptoms that depend on how old they are. As children get older, their symptoms are more like those of adults.

  • Young children may become upset if their parents are not close by. Or children may have trouble sleeping or suddenly have trouble with toilet training or going to the bathroom.
  • Children who are in the first few years of elementary school (ages 6 to 9) may act out the trauma through play, drawings, or stories. They may complain of physical problems or become more irritable or aggressive. They also may have fears and anxiety that don't seem to be caused by the traumatic event.

If you think you or a loved one has symptoms of PTSD, see your doctor right away. Fill out this form(What is a PDF document?) and take it to your doctor. Treatment can work, and early treatment may help reduce long-term symptoms.2

This information is produced and provided by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National Cancer Institute via the Internet web site at http:// cancer .gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER.

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: January 09, 2013
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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