PTSD: Signs and Symptoms

Close-up of a sad soldier with PTSD talking about his fears with a doctor.

Signs and Symptoms of PTSD

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) will be triggered by witnessing or experiencing trauma. Sadly, it can lead to the development of various symptoms that can impact many aspects of a person’s everyday life.

PTSD symptoms will commonly develop within the first month after the event, but they also might not appear until many months or even years later. People could also face different struggles. For example, some might suffer from consistent problems, while others might experience minor symptoms that could gradually become worse.

If you have endured a traumatic event, it is possible you could be living with the mental illness. Keep reading to learn more about all the symptoms of PTSD.


One of the most common PTSD symptoms is re-experiencing, which causes a person to relive memories of the traumatic event over and over again.

For example, people with PTSD might struggle with:

  • Vivid flashbacks
  • Nightmares
  • Physical sensations (such as pain, trembling, sweating or nausea)
  • Intrusive memories

It is also possible that a person might constantly ask themselves questions about the experience, as they might have feelings of guilt or shame that could prevent them from moving on from the event.


Many people living with PTSD might go to great lengths to avoid an unwanted reminder of trauma. For example, they might avoid specific people or places that could trigger a flashback, or they might steer clear of people who may want to talk about the event.

A person might appear isolated or withdrawn from their loved ones, or they might immerse themselves in their hobbies or work to avoid thinking about the experience.

Negative Thinking

Many people struggling with PTSD symptoms might believe it is impossible to move on from a traumatic experience. Negative thinking is, therefore, a common symptom of those who have developed PTSD.

For example, people with complex PTSD might:

  • Have negative thoughts about themselves or others
  • Experience feelings of hopelessness for their future
  • No longer be interested in activities they once enjoyed
  • Feel detached from their loved ones
  • Struggle to think positively
  • Feel emotionally numb
  • Experience suicidal ideation

If you are experiencing suicidal thoughts, it is important to reach out to a loved one or a medical professional as soon as possible. For example, you should make an appointment with a doctor or call a suicide hotline number to discuss your overwhelming emotions.


It is also typical for someone living with post-traumatic stress disorder to struggle with anxiety, which might mean they feel unable to relax. As a result, they might be easy to startle or feel constantly threatened, which is known as hyperarousal. This could potentially lead to angry outbursts, irritability, sleeping difficulties, concentration problems and self-destructive behavior (such as excessive drinking or dangerous driving).

Seek Treatment

If you believe you could be living with post-traumatic stress disorder, you must seek help from a mental health professional as soon as possible. While it might seem almost impossible to take control of your overwhelming emotions, there are various types of treatment options available to alleviate your symptoms and enjoy a better quality of life.

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