10 Common Symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)


Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is very common, with more than 3 million cases diagnosed each year in the United States. Whether you are a veteran or a victim of a traumatic event, you may be suffering from PTSD.

PTSD is being unable to recover after experiencing or witnessing a terrifying event, such as war or terrorist attack. PTSD can last months, years, or the rest of your life. Triggers can bring back memories of the trauma, creating strong emotional and physical responses. To manage such triggers and symptoms, treatment for PTSD can include psychotherapy and medications.

Symptom 1: Flashbacks

Feel like you are going crazy? Do you relive a traumatic event over and over? Do you have flashbacks or nightmares about a traumatic event you experienced? Do they occur after a trigger or reminder? According to the Gulf Bend Center, “A flashback, while certainly intrusive, is also dissociative; meaning, there is a brief or extended period where time and reality are suspended.”

A patient on the Fear and Anxiety Disorders Clinic Website stated: “I was raped when I was 25 years old. For a long time, I spoke about the rape as though it was something that happened to someone else. I was very aware that it had happened to me, but there was just no feeling. Then I started having flashbacks. They kind of came over me like a splash of water. I would be terrified. Suddenly I was reliving the rape. Every instant was startling. I wasn't aware of anything around me, I was in a bubble, just kind of floating. And it was scary. Having a flashback can wring you out. The rape happened the week before Thanksgiving, and I can't believe the anxiety and fear I feel every year around the anniversary date. It's as though I've seen a werewolf. I can't relax, can't sleep, don't want to be with anyone. I wonder whether I'll ever be free of this terrible problem."

Symptom 2: Avoiding Places

Do you avoid people and places that remind you of a traumatic event? Do you isolate yourself from social environments? Are you avoiding your emotions?

Of course, you want to avoid thoughts and emotions related to trauma. However, this can affect your recovery and healing. The more you use avoidance to cope with trauma, the longer you are likely to have PTSD.

Symptom 3: Irritable

Are you easily angered or irritable? Agitation, irritability, hostility, and self-destructive behavior are common with PTSD. Such emotions and reactions can impact your life – both personally and professionally.

If these feelings do not diminish, you become trapped with a constant sense of danger and painful memories. You need to be able to manage your PTSD to have productive relationships.

Symptom 4: Trouble Sleeping

Do you have difficulty sleeping? Suffer from insomnia or nightmares?

According to NCBI, “…70-91% of patients with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) have difficulty falling or staying asleep. Nightmares are reported by 19-71% of patients, depending on the severity of their PTSD and their exposure to physical aggression.”

Symptom 5: Constant Fear/Mistrust

Do you persistently have feelings of fear and guilt? Are you more suspicious and cautious about people and your surroundings?

Panic attacks are a part of PTSD. Do not let such anxiety rule your world. Allow yourself to enjoy your life and the people you love.

Symptom 6: Heightened Reactivity

Do you have a sense of fear and danger wherever you go? Do certain sounds and movements make you anxious? Do you feel stress, even in safe environments?

With PTSD, you have escalated reactions to stimuli, such as sounds and images.

Symptom 7: Anxiety

Do you have trouble sleeping? Are you irritable? Is it hard to concentrate? Are you jumpy and always on alert?

PTSD is an anxiety disorder. So, you may have anxiety for months, or even years after a traumatic event.

Symptom 8: Depression

With PTSD, you may feel depressed and not want to do anything. You can become emotionally numb.

Work with you care team, as well as friends and family, to identify treatments options in order to cope.

Symptom 9: Indifference

Do you no longer have interest in or find pleasure in activities you once enjoyed? Are you emotionally detached and feel indifferent toward yourself, your life, and those around you? Depression makes what you once cared about seem unimportant now.

With PTSD, you may feel like the world is a dangerous place where people don’t care about each other. So, why should you care about anything? You suffer from indifference.

Symptom 10: Unwanted Thoughts

Do you constantly think about bad things that could happen? Are you afraid to go anywhere or be around others?

According to News-Medical.net, “The traumatic event repeatedly causes thoughts of fear, shock, anger, restlessness, and sometimes horror.”