What Are the Symptoms of PTSD?

What is PTSD? Learn about the symptoms of PTSD and what to do if you think you or a loved one has this psychiatric disorder.

PTSD, which stands for post-traumatic stress disorder, is a psychiatric disorder that occurs after a traumatic event or prolonged trauma over time. Historically, it became known as “shell shock”, which many soldiers experienced after combat in the world wars. However, any kind of trauma can lead to this disorder, such as:

  • Accidents
  • Assault
  • Abuse
  • Illness or injury (either yourself or a loved one)
  • The death of a loved one

Going through these experiences does not being you will definitely experience PTSD. A traumatic event or prolonged trauma might trigger the disorder in one person and not another, and it has not been determined exactly why. One suggestion is that those suffering from PTSD have high-stress hormone levels, though this isn’t always the case.

If you think you or a loved one might have PTSD, it’s crucial to understand the symptoms and seek medical help to process the memories and reduce symptoms over time.

Below are the most common symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder PTSD.

Flashbacks of Trauma

After experiencing a traumatic event, many people feel sad, scared, and anxious, and these symptoms tend to improve naturally over a few weeks. In people with PTSD, these symptoms last far longer and can produce one of the most common symptoms associated with post traumatic stress disorder: flashbacks.

Flashbacks make a person with PTSD experience the traumatic event over and over again in their mind. Often, the flashback is very vivid and causes high levels of panic and anxiety, and can even become debilitating in severe cases.

Frequent Nightmares

People with PTSD usually experience frequent nightmares, often of the traumatic event or events that they have been through. These nightmares cause elevated stress levels and can lead to further issues, like sleeping difficulties and insomnia.

Extreme Anxiety

Anxiety is a symptom of multiple mental health issues, including PTSD. After experiencing trauma, a person with PTSD will often feel extreme anxiety in their day-to-day life. They


It is common for people living with PTSD to avoid anything associated with the traumatic event they experienced, which often includes people, places or activities. It is common for sufferers to even withdraw from their friends and family. Over time, this can make their symptoms even worse as they continue to isolate themselves.

Intrusive Thoughts

Intrusive thoughts involve upsetting and confusing thoughts that those with PTSD wish would disappear. Typically, these thoughts lead to feelings of guilt and upset. Without treatment, these intrusive thoughts are difficult to manage and might worsen over time in some cases.

Irritability or Anger

Many people with PTSD become irritable or angry, which can lead to reckless behaviour. This behaviour might cause them to damage their relationships. Extreme anger may also be a sign of complex PTSD, which is caused by long-term trauma rather than a single event.

PTSD in Children

Children can get PTSD just like adults. The symptoms may look different, though. If you suspect your child has PTSD, here are the signs to look out for:

  • Reliving the traumatic event
  • Angry outbursts
  • Nightmares
  • Fear and/or sadness

Seek Help for PTSD

When experiencing symptoms like this, it’s important to see mental health specialists in order to determine the cause. Then, these mental health professionals can provide appropriate treatment to help the patient manage and improve their symptoms over time, whether through therapy or medication, or a combination of both.

If you think you or your loved one is experiencing PTSD, book an appointment with your NHS GP as soon as possible. Help is available, and nobody has to carry on suffering with their symptoms.

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