7 Signs of Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

Signs of Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a disorder that can occur after experiencing or witnessing traumatic events such as, physical abuse, war, an accident, natural disaster, or even something like the death of a loved one.

PTSD is often associated with military veterans, but it can affect anybody who has experienced any type of trauma.

In most cases, signs of post-traumatic stress disorder can begin immediately after the incident, or they may not start until months later.

But sometimes, symptoms may not appear until years after the disturbing incident.

Moreover, the symptoms can vary from person to person.

The good news is that PTSD is highly treatable.

This article discusses seven signs of Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

If you have experienced a traumatic event and are experiencing any of these symptoms, it is recommended to seek professional help from a mental health counselor or your doctor.

7 signs of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

1. Flashbacks or intrusive memories

One of the most common symptoms of PTSD is flashbacks or intrusive memories.

This means that you may constantly feel like you are experiencing the traumatic event all over again.

According to the American Psychiatric Association, the flashbacks may be so vivid that you feel like you are living through the traumatic experience or seeing it unfold before your eyes.

Some people may feel that they are actually re-experiencing the physical sensations, pain, and emotions of what happened during the traumatic event.

These flashbacks can be triggered by something as simple as a sound or image.

It is also common for these memories to come back in nightmares while sleeping at night.

If you are experiencing this type of flashback, it is important to remember that the memory is not real.

The event has already happened and cannot hurt you again.

2. Avoiding things that remind you of the event

Many people with PTSD will try to avoid anything that reminds them of the traumatic event.

This may include people, places, activities, or conversations that are associated with the event.

In fact, many people with PTSD go out of their way to avoid anything that may trigger a flashback.

For example, a person who was in a car accident may avoid driving or being around cars.

Or, a person who was sexually assaulted may avoid going to parties or social events.

This avoidance can have a significant impact on your life as it can limit your ability to do the things you enjoy.

If you are struggling with this symptom, try to a therapist or your doctor for help.

They may be able to give you some tips on how to manage your symptoms and start living a more fulfilling life.

3. Being easily startled or frightened

Another common symptom of PTSD is being easily startled or frightened.

You may feel like the world around you “is not real” and that danger can come from anywhere at any time.

This feeling often leads to hypervigilance, which means always looking out for potential threats in your environment (even when there are none).  

For example, veterans may experience these symptoms when they hear a loud noise or someone comes up from behind them.

This is due to their experience in their military unit or during combat, where they were constantly on high alert and ready for danger.

If you feel this way, it is important to remember that you are safe.

Even though your mind may be playing tricks on you and making the world seem scarier than it really is, there is no danger right now.

You can try some relaxation techniques such as deep breathing or meditation if being frightened becomes a problem in your daily life.

If these techniques do not help, please reach out for professional help.

4. Feeling guilt or shame

People suffering from PTSD often feel guilt, shame, or self-blame.

Why?

Because they think that it is their fault the traumatic event happened.

For example, if someone was sexually assaulted, they might tell themselves, “If I wasn’t wearing this dress or didn’t go out tonight… this never would have happened.”

Or, a person who survived an accident may blame themselves for not paying attention while driving or for speeding.

These thoughts and feelings will only make the guilt, shame, and self-blame worse over time.

It is important to remember that you are not responsible for what happened during the traumatic event (no matter how much it may feel like your fault).

If these types of negative thoughts start to take up a significant amount of your time, you may want to seek help from a therapist or counselor.

5. Having difficulty sleeping

Difficulty sleeping is another sign of Post-traumatic stress disorder.

This can include:

  • Having nightmares about the traumatic event (often called “night terrors”)
  • Waking up in a cold sweat and then not being able to go back to sleep due to feeling anxious or worried about what happened during the nightmare.  
  • Tossing and turning all night
  • Difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep

If you are struggling with sleep problems, there are a few things you can do to help.

For example, try to stick to a regular sleep schedule as much as possible.

Make sure your bedroom is dark, quiet, and relaxing.

Limit caffeine and alcohol intake before bedtime.

And, if you are still struggling, talk to your doctor about getting a prescription for sleeping medication.

Just be sure to use the medication as directed and do not take it for longer than necessary.

6. Feeling angry, irritable, or out of control

Many people with PTSD find themselves feeling angry, irritable, and out of control.

This may be directed towards other people (such as family members or friends) or even inanimate objects.

For example, a person who was assaulted might start to have thoughts about harming the person who assaulted them.

Or, a person might start to have angry outbursts toward their kids or significant other for “small” things such as not putting their dirty clothes in the hamper.

If you find yourself having these types of thoughts and feelings, please also seek help from a therapist or counselor.

It is important to remember that your anger is normal after experiencing something traumatic, and it is okay to feel angry about what happened (it does not mean that you are “crazy” or “bad”).

But, it is not okay to act on these thoughts and feelings.

To get help for anger problems, please see a mental health professional who specializes in anger management.

7. Physical health issues

Physical health problems are also common in people with PTSD.

This can include things such as chronic pain, headaches, stomach problems, chest pain, and fatigue.

Most of the time, these physical health issues are not directly related to the traumatic event.

Rather, they are a result of the stress and anxiety that is often associated with PTSD.

In fact, studies have found that people with PTSD are more likely to have physical health problems such as:

  • Heart disease
  • Diabetes
  • Arthritis
  • Stroke

If you are struggling with any physical health problems, please make an appointment to see your doctor.

Your doctor can help you figure out if the physical health problems are related to PTSD or another medical condition.

They may also be able to refer you to a therapist or counselor who specializes in working with people who have PTSD.

Read on: 7 Behaviors of someone suffering from past emotional trauma

Summary

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental health problem that can occur after a traumatic event.

PTSD is common among military veterans, survivors of physical and sexual assault, victims of natural disasters, accidents, or assault.

Signs of PTSD include having negative thoughts and feelings about the traumatic event, difficulty sleeping, feeling angry or out of control, depression, and physical health problems.

It is also important to remember: It is normal to experience these signs after going through something really terrible.

But, if you have been struggling with PTSD symptoms for more than a month or two, please see your doctor or therapist as soon as possible.

They can help treat the condition and get you feeling like yourself again!

Keep on reading: 7 Signs of Anxiety Disorder