Signs and symptoms of PTSD
PTSD is a real illness, with symptoms that a mental health professional can diagnose. The symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder fall into three groups.
Some symptoms can feel like reliving the experience. They may be triggered by reminders of the event, or arise out of person’s thoughts and feelings.
Symptoms of intrusive memories:
- Vivid flashbacks, where it feels like the event is happening again
- Repeated nightmares
- Frightening and distressing thoughts or images that replay the event
- Becoming distressed when reminded of the event by triggers in the environment
- Strong physical reactions to anything that symbolizes or resembles the traumatic event
Additional symptoms have to do with avoidance behaviors. A person with PTSD may start withdrawing from their loved ones and changing their routines and activities.
Symptoms of avoidance:
- Avoiding thoughts, feelings, or conversations related to the traumatic event
- Staying away from activities, places, or people that are reminders of the events
- Feeling less-intense emotions and feeling detached from others
- Inability to recall an important aspect of the trauma
- Losing interest in activities that were enjoyable in the past
- Having a sense of a foreshortened future, such as not expecting to have a career, marriage, children, or a normal life span
The third group of symptoms have to do with a persistent sense of heightened arousal.
Symptoms of heightened arousal:
- Difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep
- Difficulty concentrating
- Angry outbursts and irritability
- Being easily startled
- Feeling tense or “on edge”