Signs & symptoms of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder
PTSD usually appears within three months of the event, but
sometimes symptoms may not appear for years. Common symptoms include reliving
the event, avoiding reminders of the event, losing emotions and always feeling
that something bad is going to happen. Specific symptoms include:
- re-experiencing the traumatic event over and over
- having recurring nightmares
- experiencing unwanted, disturbing memories of the event
- acting or feeling as if the event is happening again
- feeling upset when reminded of the event
- staying away from activities, places or people that are reminders
of the traumatic experience
- avoiding friends and family.
- losing interest in activities one used to enjoy
- experiencing difficulty having loving feelings
- being unable to feel pleasure
- constantly worrying
- having a hard time concentrating
- getting angry easily
- having trouble falling asleep or staying asleep
- fearing harm from others
- experiencing sudden attacks of dizziness, fast heartbeat or
shortness of breath
- having fears of dying.
How does PTSD affect relationships?
Symptoms of PTSD can make it hard to get along with people.
This can lead to problems with family, friends and co-workers. When a person
constantly worries or feels guilty, has poor sleep patterns, uses alcohol or
other drugs or feels emotionally numb, these issues can strain relationships.
It’s hard to be with a person who seems to get angry for no reason or who often
gets into bad moods. It’s also hard to be with a person who will not go out or
take part in social events.
Causes & risk factors
PTSD is a response to traumatic life events, for example,
car crashes, fires, bombings, rape, torture, or seeing a family member, friend
or other person harmed or killed. Being involved in a natural disaster, such as
a hurricane, flood or earthquake, can also lead to PTSD.
Some people experience traumatic events and do not develop
PTSD. Many factors play a part in whether a person will develop the disorder. Risk
factors make a person more likely to get PTSD, whereas resilience factors
reduce the likelihood of developing the disorder.
Risk factors for PTSD include:
- having experienced dangerous events and trauma in the past
- having a history of mental illness or PTSD
- feeling horror, helplessness or extreme fear
- having little or no social support after the traumatic event
- feeling guilt, shame or responsibility for the event or its outcome
- experiencing other stressors after the event, e.g., loss of
a loved one, pain and injury, loss of a job or home.
Resilience factors that may reduce the risk of developing
- seeking out support from other people, such as friends and
- participating in a support group after a traumatic event
- feeling good about one’s own actions in the face of danger
- having a coping strategy or a way of getting through the traumatic
event, and learning from it
- being able to act and respond effectively despite feeling