Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Symptoms

(Also Known As: Ptsd Symptoms, Stress Disorder Symptoms, Traumatic Stress Symptoms, Chronic Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Symptoms, Shell Shock Symptoms, Stress Syndrome Symptoms, Railway Spine Symptoms, Traumatic War Neurosis Symptoms, Battle Fatigue Symptoms, Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome Symptoms)

(Reviewed by: Paul Peterson, Licensed Therapist)

What are the Symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder?

The clinical course of post traumatic stress disorder is usually varied; the symptoms are varied depending on the type of traumatic event the person affected was exposed to. About half of the patients with PTSD experienced complete recovery from their symptoms within 3 months of treatment, while others experience persistent symptoms longer than 12 months after the trauma. The severity of symptoms depends on factors such as the duration of the exposure of the trauma and the severity of traumatic exposure to the stressor. The symptomatic course of the disorder is one with a waxing and waning characteristic. The reactivation of the symptoms usually occurs in response to the reminders of the original trauma, life’s stressors, and experiencing new traumatic events. The symptoms usually develop for a few weeks, months or years after the exposure to the traumatic event.

The symptoms in PTSD are of three types as follows: 4

Symptoms from Re-experiencing the Traumatic Event

  • Flashbacks
  • Intrusive, upsetting memories of the event
  • Feeling of intense distress when reminded of the trauma
  • Nightmares
  • Intense physical reaction the reminder of the event such as rapid breathing, nausea, pounding heartbeat, sweating, muscle tension

Symptoms of Avoidance and Emotional Numbing

  • Inability to remember important aspect of the trauma
  • Avoiding activities, thoughts, places, and feelings that reminds them of the trauma
  • Feeling detached and emotionally numb
  • Loss of interest in life and activities in general
  • Sense of limited future

Symptoms of Increased Arousal

  • Difficulty in concentrating
  • Difficulty in falling and staying asleep
  • Irritability
  • Outbursts of anger
  • Hyper vigilance
  • Feeling jumpy
  • Easily startled

Other Symptoms

  • Guilt
  • Shame
  • Self-blame
  • Substance abuse
  • Suicidal feelings and thoughts
  • Feeling alone and alienated
  • Feeling of mistrust
  • Feeling of betrayal
  • Headaches
  • Chest pain
  • Stomach problems
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Extreme distress
  • Stressed
  • Memory problems
  • Hearing and seeing things that are not there
  • Self destructive behavior such as drinking too much
  • Upsetting dreams
  • Strained relationship with others

Once the symptoms of the PTSD persist for more than 3 months the condition is categorized as chronic PTSD. Acute stress disorder also has similar symptom as PTSD however the major differences between the two disorders involves the persistence of the symptoms in acute stress disorder which usually occurs only for a shorter duration of days to weeks with fewer numbers of traumatic symptoms experienced to obtain a diagnosis. 5

Children are also prone to develop PTSD and the following are the common symptoms manifested by children of various group age: 6

Young Children (1-6 years)

Generalized fear, lack of responsiveness, helplessness, heightened arousal and confusion, difficulty talking about the events, cognitive confusion, sleep disturbances, difficulty identifying feelings, nightmares, separation fears, clinging to caregivers, inability to understand death as permanent, regressive symptoms such as bed wetting and loss of motor skills, anxieties about death, somatic symptoms such as headaches and stomach aches, grief related to abandonment by caregiver, freezing, startled response, fussiness, crying.

School Age Children (6-11 years)

Feeling of guilt and responsibility, repetitious traumatic play, feeling disturbed, concerned about safety, pre-occupation with dangers, fears of feelings, trauma reaction, aggressiveness, angry outbursts, school avoidance, close attention to parent’s anxiety, behavior/mood/personality changes, concern for others, withdrawal, fearfulness, somatic symptoms, regression, separation anxiety, loss of interest in activities, unclear understanding of death, confusion, distractible behavior.

Pre-adolescents and Adolescents (12-18 years)

Life threatening re-enactment, self consciousness, abrupt shift in relationship, rebellion at home and school, social withdrawal, depression, decline in school performance, trauma-driven acting out such as sexual activity, excessive activity or retreat with others to manage inner turmoil, efforts to distance self from the feelings of guilt, humiliation and shame, accident proneness, withdrawal, wish for revenge, sleep disturbances and nightmares.

Could You Have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder?

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Topics

Related Conditions

Anxiety Disorder NOS – Unpleasant Emotion, Fear, Anxiety, Phobia, Fatigue, Exhaustion
Generalized Anxiety Disorder – Irrational Worry, Uncontrolled Depression, Anxiety Response Not in Proportion to the Actual Cause
Panic Disorder – Panic Attack, Anxiety, On-Going Irrational Worry
Social Anxiety Disorder – Social Anxiety, Anxiety Disorder, Chronic Fear to be Judge by Others, Fear of Social Interaction