Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

What Are the Symptoms of PTSD?

PTSD has four types of symptoms:

Reliving the event (also called reexperiencing)

Memories of the trauma can come back at any time.  You may feel the same fear and horror you did when the event took place.  You may have nightmares or feel like you're going throught it again.  This is called a flashback.  Sometimes there is a trigger - a sound or sight that causes you to relive the event.

  • Seeing someone who remind you of the trauma may bring back memories of the event.

  • You may think about the trauma at work or school when you need to concentrate on something else.

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.

  • You may avoid crowds, because they feel dangerous.

  • If youwere in a car accident or if your military convoy was bombed, you may avoid driving.

  • Some people may keep very busy or avoid seeking help. This keeps them from having to think or talk about the event.


Negative changes in beliefs and feelings

The way you think about yourself and others chages because of the trauma.  This symptom has many aspects, including the following:

  • You may not have positive or loving feelings toward other people and may stay away from relationships.

  • You may forget about parts of the traumatic event or not be able to talk about them.

  • You may think the world is completely dangerous, and no one can be trusted.

Feeling keyed up (also called hyperarousal)

You may be jittery, or always on the alert and on the lookout for danger.  You might suddenly become angry or irritable.  This is known as hyperarousal.

  • You may want to have your back to a wall in a restaurant or waiting room.

  • A loud noise can startle you easily.

  • If someone bumps into you, you might fly into a rage.

What Other Problems Do People with PTSD Experience?

People with PTSD may feel hopelessness, shame, or despair.  Employment and relationship problems are also common. Depression,anxiety, and alcohol or drug use often occur at the same time as PTSD.

How Likely Is a Person to Develop PTSD after a Trauma?


How likely you are to get PTSD can depend on things like:

  • How intense the trauma was or how long it lasted

  • If you lost someone you were close to or if you were hurt

  • How close you were to the event

  • How strong your reation was

  • How much you felt in control of events

  • How much help and support you got after the event


Some groups of people may be more likely than others to develop PTSD.  You are more likely to develop PTSD if you:

  • Are female or a minority

  • Had an earlier life-threatening event or trauma

  • Have another mental health problem

  • Have family members who have had mental health problems

  • Have little support from family and friends

  • Have had recent, stressful life changes