Anxiety Home > Symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Signs of post-traumatic stress disorder can be mild or severe, depending on the person's ability to cope with stress, how serious the trauma was, and what kind of help is available. Common symptoms include upsetting memories, nightmares, and difficulty controlling emotions. By recognizing the effects of PTSD and knowing more about post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms, a person is better able to make decisions regarding treatment.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Symptoms: An Overview

During a trauma, survivors often become overwhelmed with fear. Soon after the traumatic experience, they may re-experience the trauma mentally and physically. Because this can be uncomfortable and sometimes painful, survivors tend to avoid reminders of the event. These symptoms create a problem that is called post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
PTSD is a specific set of problems resulting from a traumatic experience and is recognized by medical and mental health professionals.
The severity of the problems and post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms depend on many things, including:
  • The person's life experiences before the trauma
  • The person's own natural ability to cope with stress
  • How serious the trauma was
  • What kind of help and support a person gets from family, friends, and professionals immediately following the trauma.
Because most trauma survivors are not familiar with how trauma affects people, they often have trouble understanding what is happening to them. They may think that the trauma is their fault, that they are going crazy, or that there is something wrong with them because other people who experienced the trauma don't appear to have the same problems.
Survivors may turn to drugs or alcohol to make themselves feel better. They may turn away from friends and family who don't seem to understand. They may not know what to do to get better.
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Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
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