Understanding Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder -- Symptoms
What Are the Symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder?
Post-traumatic stress disorder -- or PTSD -- is a condition in which one's life has been disrupted by an actual or perceived event that was life-threatening or violent or posed a risk for serious injury.
Someone who has experienced severe trauma -- war, combat, natural disaster, physical or sexual abuse -- or witnessed violence, such as murder or physical abuse, may display one or more of these symptoms:
- Reliving the event with repeated flashbacks or recurring dreams of the event (Children may not remember the whole event, but may be haunted by a single image. They may express their fear by repeatedly play-acting an event or action.)
- Frightening or disturbing dreams
- Outbursts of anger
- Intense distress if exposed to anything resembling the event
Hypervigilance (hyperarousal and reactivity):
- Preoccupation with possible unknown threats, constantly watching and scanning surroundings, startling easiiy. A persistent sense of insecurity
- Efforts to avoid any people or activities that may arouse recollection of the trauma
Changes in mood and thinking:
- Trouble recalling trauma-related events
- Distorted beliefs about the world or oneself (for example, being all bad)
- Negative or detached emotions
- Loss of interest
Other symptoms may involve:
- Psychological numbing
- Inability to relate to others
- Chronic physical symptoms such as pain, headaches, or irritable bowels
- In young children: agitated behavior, difficulty concentrating, or developmental regression in such things as toilet training or speech
- No sense of a future -- no expectation of having a family, of having a career, or of living to old age
- Dissociation, whereby someone can experience derealization or depersonalization
See Your Doctor About PTSD If:
If you've suffered a traumatic experience, it's best to seek help from a mental health professional. Don't wait for symptoms to appear.
If you are having symptoms of PTSD, you don't have to keep suffering. Seek help from a mental health professional. Treatments are available.