Recognizing PTSD and How It Is Diagnosed
Many people with PTSD repeatedly re-experience the ordeal in the form of flashbacks, memories, nightmares, or frightening thoughts, especially when they are exposed to events or objects that remind them of the trauma. Anniversaries of the event can also trigger symptoms.
People with the condition may experience:
- Emotional numbness and sleep disturbances
- Irritability or outbursts of anger
- Feelings of intense guilt.
Most people with the condition try to avoid any reminders or thoughts of the ordeal.
Physical PTSD symptoms are also common, such as:
- Gastrointestinal distress
- Immune system problems
- Chest pain
- Discomfort in other parts of the body.
Often, healthcare providers treat these symptoms without being aware that they stem from an anxiety disorder.
Post-traumatic stress disorder is diagnosed only if the symptoms last more than a month. In those who do develop the condition, symptoms usually begin within three months of the trauma. The course of the illness varies. Some people recover within six months; others have symptoms that last much longer. In some cases, PTSD may be chronic. Occasionally, it doesn't show up until years after the traumatic event.