What are the symptoms?

No two people experience the same Symptoms of PTSD.


Post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms starts after the event either, within one month of a traumatic event, but the symptoms may not appear until years after the event.  They can also interfere with your ability to go about your normal daily life.

PTSD symptoms are generally grouped into four types: intrusive memories, avoidance, negative changes in thinking and mood, and changes in physical and emotional reactions. 

Reliving the ordeal through thoughts and memories of the trauma.

Intrusive memories

Symptoms include:

  • On going unwanted distressing memories of the traumatic event
  • Upsetting dreams or nightmares about the trauma
  • Severe emotional distress or physical reactions to something that reminds you of the trauma


Negative changes in thinking and mood

Symptoms of negative changes in thinking and mood may include:

·    Thinking negatively about yourself, others and the world

·    Feeling hopeless about their future

·    Memory problems, including not     remembering important details about the traumatic event

·    Difficulty keeping close relationships

·    Feeling detached from family and friends

·    Don't enjoy activities you once enjoyed

·    Difficulty experiencing positive emotions


Changes in physical and emotional reactions: (also called arousal symptoms) may include:

·  Being easily startled or frightened

·  Always being vigilant and guard for danger

·  Destructive behaviour driving too fast

·  Not sleeping

·  Can’t concentrate

·  Irritability, angry outbursts or aggressive behaviour

·  Overwhelming guilt or shame

For children 6 years old and younger, signs and symptoms may also include:

·  Re-enacting the traumatic event or aspects of the traumatic event through play

·  Frightening dreams that may or may not include aspects of the traumatic event


Flashbacks -

Is when you re-experience the event

after a traumatic experience it is common to have difficulties sleeping due to nightmares or due to mentally going over details of the event.

Feeling constantly anxious after a trauma is very common.

Sometimes these feelings turn into anxiety disorders such as PTSD or panic attacks. Even if you handled stress very well before your experience, many people find stress harder to manage after a traumatic event..

Feeling angry after a trauma is very common. You might be angry at the person who traumatized you, at the event itself or even at the world.

This can lead to outbursts and other anger management issues.

Many people fall into a depression after experiencing something very distressing.

You can be left wondering why the event happened to you - leading to dark moods and in severe cases, suicidal thoughts.


Loss of self-esteem It can be easy to not feel good enough, self-belief and self-confidence after you have experienced something traumatic. You can be left questioning your identity and what you have to offer the world.

 For some, the only way they feel they can deal with what happened is by

  • self-medicating with alcohol or drugs

This leads to very self-destructive behaviour and can isolate you from friends and family.


Emotional detachment – For some, the emotions brought up are so severe that they cannot deal with them at all.

This can lead to emotional numbness, also known as dissociation.

You may refuse to deal with any psychological issues you have and could appear cold and distant to others.


The longer your trauma symptoms go untreated, the more psychological damage they could cause.

Therefore it is important to know when to seek professional help.

  • Alertness or feeling on edge:
  • Panicking when reminded of the trauma
  • Being easily upset or outbursts of anger
  • Extreme alertness. hypervigilance
  • Physical sensations, such as pain, sweating, nausea or trembling, increased blood pressure and heart rate, rapid breathing, muscle tension, nausea and diarrhoea
  • A lack of or disturbed sleep, difficulty falling or staying asleep
  • Hallucinations, and nightmares
  • Intrusive thoughts and images
  • Intense distress at real or symbolic reminders of the trauma, such as the anniversary date of the event.
  • Lack of concentration
  • Self-destructive behaviour or recklessness.


Intensity of symptoms

PTSD symptoms can vary in intensity over time. You may have more PTSD symptoms when you're stressed in general, or when you come across reminders of what you went through.

For example, you may hear a car backfire and relive combat experiences. Or you may see a report on the news about a sexual assault and feel overcome by memories of your own assault.


Avoiding feelings or memories:

  • Keeping busy
  • Avoiding situations that remind you of the trauma
  • Feeling detached, cut off and emotionally numb
  • Being unable to express affection


You may also develop other mental health conditions, such as:

  • Severe anxiety
  • Suicidal feelings.


Young children with PTSD may suffer from delayed development in areas such as toilet training, motor skills, and language.

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