Signs & Symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

The signs and symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder usually begin within three months of experiencing the event. There have been cases however, where the symptoms did not appear until many years later. The severity and the duration of the illness can vary, with some people recovering within six months, while others may suffer for many years.

The symptoms of PTSD are grouped into three categories. These are:

  • Re-living: People with PTSD keep re-living the traumatic event that they have experienced. These can take the form of hallucinations, flashbacks and nightmares. They will also be severely affected by people, places and things that are reminiscent of the event.
  • Avoidance: The person with PTSD may avoid people, places and things that remind him or her of that event. This behavior may lead to feelings of detachment, resulting in isolation from friends and family. They may stop indulging in activities which they once considered pleasurable (anhedonia). They appear to be “emotionally dead” and are unable to think about the future or make plans.
  • Increased Arousal: These include experiencing extreme emotions, problems relating to others, emotional volatility, outbursts of anger and difficulty in sleeping. Physical symptoms include an increased heart rate and blood pressure, rapid breathing, nausea, diarrhea and fatigue.

Young children with PTSD may have their development in certain areas like toilet training and motor and speech skills delayed.

Frequently asked questions
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  3. Rianne Stam, PTSD and stress sensitisation: A tale of brain and body: Part 1: Human studies, Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews, Volume 31, Issue 4, 2007, Pages 530-557, ISSN 0149-7634, 10.1016/j.neubiorev.2006.11.010.