What Are the Symptoms of PTSD?
What are some of the common PTSD symptoms and how can the condition be treated? Read on to learn more.
What Is PTSD?
PTSD, which stands for post-traumatic stress disorder, is a condition in which a person has difficulty recovering from a traumatic experience. In the past, the condition was called “shell shock” or “combat fatigue” due to the many veterans who experienced the condition in World War II and beyond. However, we now know that there are many causes of PTSD, and the condition can affect anyone who has experienced or witnessed trauma, regardless of whether you’re a veteran or not.1
People with PTSD often deal with difficult PTSD symptoms like anxiety, sleep problems, and disturbing thoughts or flashbacks to the traumatic event. People with another form of PTSD called complex PTSD have PTSD symptoms that may be more intense due to repeated traumatic experiences. The symptoms of complex PTSD are like those of typical PTSD but can also include feelings of negative self-worth, relationship issues, trouble regulating emotions, and detachment from trauma.2
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PTSD Causes and Risk Factors
Research shows that about 6% of people in the United States will have PTSD at some point in life. Some events that can lead to signs of PTSD include witnessing or experiencing violence, natural disasters, car accidents, and losing a loved one.3
While most people will go through a traumatic experience at some point, not everyone develops PTSD or PTSD signs and symptoms. However, some risk factors make your chances of developing PTSD higher, including:
People with PTSD will sometimes also experience physical PTSD symptoms, including:4
Impact of PTSD
The combination of mental, physical, and emotional PTSD signs and symptoms can affect an individual and cause several behavioral changes. You may feel a lack of enjoyment in things you once enjoyed, a lack of interest in life, and difficulty feeling positive emotions. You might find yourself easily startled or easily angered. You may also struggle to maintain a job and complete daily activities. While these symptoms can be difficult and troubling, it’s important to acknowledge that they aren’t personal failings but symptoms of PTSD.
The good news is that PTSD is treatable, and there are several PTSD treatments available for those living with the condition.
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Diagnosis
If you suspect you may have PTSD, a doctor with experience working with mental health, like a psychologist or psychiatrist, can evaluate you and potentially diagnose you. PTSD diagnosis typically involves a physical exam to rule out any physical explanations for your symptoms; a psychological exam, where you discuss your symptoms; and an evaluation of your symptoms using the criteria in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5).
PTSD Diagnosis Criteria
To be diagnosed with the condition, you must experience all of the following PTSD criteria for at least one month, according to the DSM-5:5