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What Are The Signs Of Ptsd

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Signs Of Complex Ptsd

Signs of pandemic PTSD & tips for how to cope

Are you experiencing the symptoms of Complex PTSD?

The truth is, you may be affected by this damaging psychological condition and you might not even know it. Some of us may realize that we are not well, but most of the time we brush it off as anxiety or stress, and hence the condition often goes undiagnosed. Recognizing the signs and symptoms of Complex PTSD will help us to identify the disorder and enable us to seek the right treatment.

Here are a few common symptoms of Complex PTSD that you need to look out for:

The New Way To Predict Ptsd In Adults

While everyone can feel low at times, Dr. Emrani says if your symptoms persist for three months or longer, you may have PTSD. For your symptoms to be diagnosed as a disorder, they have to actually impact your daily life activities and your ability to function, she says.

Emrani further explains that symptoms can appear at varying times after the traumatic event, sometimes three or even six months afterward, and come and go based on triggering events.

The condition could turn chronic for some, while for others symptoms might dissipate after six months with treatment.

Here is an overview of the different symptoms of PTSD.

Who Is At Risk Of Ptsd

Anyone who has been through an experience that was intensely scary, dangerous, or life threatening is at risk of PTSD. Experiencing this type of trauma is common: At least 4 in 5 people experience some type of trauma in their lifetimes.1 The majority of people who experience a trauma do not develop PTSD. The more serious the trauma was or the more directly it affected you, the higher your risk of developing PTSD afterward.7

Military veterans as a group are at very high risk of PTSD. About 14% of veterans of the more recent conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan developed PTSD after returning home.8

Women are about twice as likely as men to develop PTSD.9 Women who have gone through trauma, including women in the military, are more likely than men whove experienced trauma to develop PTSD. Among women who are raped, about half develop PTSD.6

Learn more about how trauma affects women.

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Symptoms That Last Longer Than A Month

When these symptoms last only a few weeks after trauma, its usually called acute stress disorder or ASD. If the symptoms last more than a month, theyre more likely to be PTSD. In both cases, medical problems, as well as drug or alcohol abuse, must be ruled out as underlying causes of these symptoms.

ASD often comes before PTSD, but not always. Symptoms of PTSD can appear immediately following a traumatic event, or they can appear weeks, months, or even years afterward. PTSD can also come and go. In many people, youve got chronic symptoms that wax and wane, says Dr. Ritchie. In some people, they go away and in others they stay bad. Anyone with symptoms that last longer than a month should talk to a doctor or mental health professional about what theyre experiencing. Talk therapy, medications, or both can often help alleviate PTSD symptoms.

Most Overlooked Signs Of Ptsd

What are the symptoms of PTSD

Post-traumatic stress disorder manifests itself in a variety of ways. While most people associate the disorder with flashbacks and dramatic outbursts, PTSD also comes with a host of other symptoms that are easily missed. The disorder could impact nearly every aspect of a persons life, from sleep quality to daily mood.

The most overlooked signs of PTSD could be hiding in plain sight. If you or a fire fighter you know is struggling with any of these symptoms after a traumatic event, consulting a professional about PTSD could help. While these four signs dont necessarily mean a fire fighter has PTSD, when combined with other symptoms, they could indicate a problem that should be addressed.

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Myth: Its A Sign Of Weakness

People often dont seek help for PTSD and other mental health conditions because they think that their symptoms are a sign of failure or weakness. It is important to know that having PTSD after trauma does not mean that you are weaker than other people.

Anyone can develop the condition because it is linked to changes in how the brain works. These changes are not something you can control, nor use willpower to overcome.

Arousal And Reactivity Symptoms

  • Having difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep
  • Feeling irritable and having angry or aggressive outbursts
  • Engaging in risky, reckless, or destructive behavior

Arousal symptoms are often presentthey can lead to feelings of stress and anger and may interfere with parts of daily life, such as sleeping, eating, or concentrating.

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Emerging Trends In Substance Misuse:

  • MethamphetamineIn 2019, NSDUH data show that approximately 2 million people used methamphetamine in the past year. Approximately 1 million people had a methamphetamine use disorder, which was higher than the percentage in 2016, but similar to the percentages in 2015 and 2018. The National Institute on Drug Abuse Data shows that overdose death rates involving methamphetamine have quadrupled from 2011 to 2017. Frequent meth use is associated with mood disturbances, hallucinations, and paranoia.
  • CocaineIn 2019, NSDUH data show an estimated 5.5 million people aged 12 or older were past users of cocaine, including about 778,000 users of crack. The CDC reports that overdose deaths involving have increased by one-third from 2016 to 2017. In the short term, cocaine use can result in increased blood pressure, restlessness, and irritability. In the long term, severe medical complications of cocaine use include heart attacks, seizures, and abdominal pain.
  • KratomIn 2019, NSDUH data show that about 825,000 people had used Kratom in the past month. Kratom is a tropical plant that grows naturally in Southeast Asia with leaves that can have psychotropic effects by affecting opioid brain receptors. It is currently unregulated and has risk of abuse and dependence. The National Institute on Drug Abuse reports that health effects of Kratom can include nausea, itching, seizures, and hallucinations.


When To Seek Medical Advice

12 signs you might be suffering from PTSD

It’s normal to experience upsetting and confusing thoughts after a traumatic event, but in most people these improve naturally over a few weeks.

You should visit your GP if you or your child are still having problems about 4 weeks after the traumatic experience, or the symptoms are particularly troublesome.

Your GP will want to discuss your symptoms with you in as much detail as possible.

They’ll ask whether you have experienced a traumatic event in the recent or distant past and whether you have re-experienced the event through flashbacks or nightmares.

Your GP can refer you to mental health specialists if they feel you’d benefit from treatment.

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The Emotional Challenges Of Traumatic Brain Injury

4. Lifestyle: After a trauma, some individuals go to great lengths to avoid reminders of the event. For instance, they may isolate and give up hobbies or activities they used to enjoy. The purpose of this may be to feel safer and less vulnerable, and to reduce reminders of the trauma. For example, a combat veteran who was bombed in a crowd oversees may avoid concerts despite his love of music, in order to feel safe.

5. Coping: Ineffective coping strategies may be adopted after trauma. For instance, an individual may begin drinking alcohol or using drugs to cope with their symptoms. Often, these unhealthy ways of coping help the individual temporarily avoid reminders of the traumatic event.

In the first few weeks following a trauma, most people will experience at least a few post-trauma reactions and symptoms. However, if you experience these changes for more than one month, if they interfere with your daily life, or if you have thoughts of hurting yourself, it is important to seek professional help as soon as possible.

To find a therapist, please visit the Psychology Today Therapy Directory.


1. Kessler, R. C., Sonnega, A., Bromet, E., Hughes, M., & Nelson, C. B. . Posttraumatic stress disorder in the National Comorbidity Survey. Archives of General Psychiatry, 52, 1048-1060.

2. American Psychiatric Association. . Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders . Washington, DC: Author.

Hyperarousal Signs Of Ptsd

Some signs of post-traumatic stress disorder have to do with the brain and bodys hyperarousal in the wake of a traumatic threat. Because the brain interprets the traumatic event as a present danger, natural fight-or-flight reactions become engaged and sometimes prolonged during re-experiencing of the event. In combination with general hypervigilance that so often accompanies PTSD, these signs of hyperarousal can amount to an exhausting and stressful experience for the survivor.

Insomnia is one PTSD symptom that is associated with hyperarousal. Many survivors with PTSD have significant difficulty falling asleep and staying in a deep sleep throughout the night. Due to persistent fears, some individuals with PTSD also sleep with the lights on, making it difficult to obtain a restful, REM-level of sleep.

Irritability is another symptom of hyperarousal, where survivors become prone to angry outbursts over slight issues. This may impact relationships and job performance. Many survivors also experience short-term memory difficulties, making focus, expression, and cognition a struggle.

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What Are Examples Of Avoidance Symptoms Of Ptsd

Given what a charged, negative experience encountering these triggers can be for a person, Emrani adds that many people with PTSD will try to avoid these triggers as much as possible.

Avoidance symptoms are self-explanatory they involve the act of staying away from triggers that force you to remember a negative event or emotion that stems from the trauma.

Many people will try to avoid these triggers altogether, Emrani says. This is a big thing for people with PTSD they might want to avoid talking about or thinking about the trauma from the past.”

For example, if you have experienced a natural disaster, you may avoid the location where that disaster occurred if you were in a car accident due to a fallen bridge, you may avoid bridges if you are a military veteran with PTSD that stems from an experience at war, you may avoid crowded places reminiscent of war zones and if you are a victim of sexual assault, you may avoid intimate relationships, she explains.

Avoidance symptoms could be tied to events that happened decades or years ago. Cameron Ritchie says some veterans she has worked with might avoid the sound of helicopter propellers or plane engines because they might remind them of bad experiences in a combat zone.

How Can I Help A Friend Or Relative Who Has Ptsd

How to understand PTSD

If you know someone who may be experiencing PTSD, the most important thing you can do is to help that person get the right diagnosis and treatment. Some people may need help making an appointment with their health care provider others may benefit from having someone accompany them to their health care visits.

If a close friend or relative is diagnosed with PTSD, you can encourage them to follow their treatment plan. If their symptoms do not get better after 6 to 8 weeks, you can encourage them to talk to their health care provider. You also can:

  • Offer emotional support, understanding, patience, and encouragement.
  • Learn about PTSD so you can understand what your friend is experiencing.
  • Listen carefully. Pay attention to the persons feelings and the situations that may trigger PTSD symptoms.

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What If I Have Ptsd And Another Mental Health Condition Like Depression Or Anxiety

Many people with PTSD have other mental health conditions, such as depression, anxiety, or even suicidal thoughts or behaviors. Getting treatment for PTSD and any other mental health conditions will help you get better. Treatment for PTSD works best when you and your doctor know about the effects of other mental health conditions and take steps to treat them at the same time.

Myth: Ptsd Cannot Be Treated

Effective treatments for PTSD are available and include cognitive-behavioral therapy , psychodynamic therapy, and medications.

If you or a loved one have experienced a stressful or traumatic event, it is important to watch for signs of PTSD. Because women may experience more internalizing symptoms, the signs of the condition may be harder to spot.

Only a licensed professional can diagnose the condition, so reach out to a professional if you are having symptoms. Once you receive a diagnosis, your therapist can work with you to develop a treatment plan that will help you learn to cope with the trauma and improve your well-being.

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Take The Next Step To Connect With Care

Every day, Veterans from all military service branches and eras connect with proven resources and effective treatments. Heres how to take the next step: the one thats right for you.

Read VA’s latest coronavirus information. If you have flu-like symptoms such as fever, cough, and shortness of breath, please call before you visit your local medical center or clinic. If you have an appointment, consider making it a telehealth appointment.

New to VA? Apply for health care benefits.

  • Getting started is simple. Create a free account online to help ease your enrollment process. To prepare to apply for VA health care in person, by telephone, or by mail, explore VAs How to Apply page.
  • Not sure whether you are eligible for VA health care benefits? Read about eligibility for VA health care.
  • Unsure of what kind of help you need? Call 1-877-222-VETS to find the right resources to meet your needs, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. ET. If you have hearing loss, call TTY: .
  • Veterans family members and caregivers can see whether they qualify for VA medical benefits as a spouse, surviving spouse, dependent child, or caregiver. Explore family and caregiver health benefits.

Already enrolled in VA and interested in mental health support? Schedule a mental health appointment.

What about other options at VA? VA offers a variety of tools and resources.

What about support beyond VA?

How Does Therapy Help

What Are the Signs of PTSD?

Trauma therapy gives people a way to safely share their feelings, tell their story, and get support. In therapy, they learn coping and calming skills to help them deal with anxiety after a trauma. This makes it easier to talk about what they have been through.

In therapy, people learn how trauma can affect their thoughts, feelings, and actions. They learn ways to adjust some of the difficult thoughts about the trauma. They learn to let go of any guilt or shame about what happened.

Slowly, people learn to face things they used to avoid. Therapy helps them gain courage and confidence. They use their strengths to cope and move forward.

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How Is Ptsd Treated

It is important for anyone with PTSD symptoms to work with a mental health professional who has experience treating PTSD. The main treatments are psychotherapy, medications, or both. An experienced mental health professional can help people find the treatment plan that meets their symptoms and needs.

Some people with PTSD may be living through an ongoing trauma, such as being in an abusive relationship. In these cases, treatment is usually most effective when it addresses both the traumatic situation and the symptoms. People who have PTSD or who are exposed to trauma also may experience panic disorder, depression, substance use, or suicidal thoughts. Treatment for these conditions can help with recovery after trauma. Research shows that support from family and friends also can be an important part of recovery.

For tips to help prepare and guide you on how to talk to your health care provider about your mental health and get the most out of your visit, read NIMHs fact sheet, Taking Control of Your Mental Health: Tips for Talking With Your Health Care Provider.

You Have Digestive Issues

Many people with PTSD experience digestive issues due to the mental stress that they are under. “The brain sends signals to the stomach that the brain is under a great deal of stress, and as a result we start to see digestive issues and stomach pain,” says Poag. Like insomnia, digestive issues can be caused by a variety of factors, so if you’re questioning where these problems may be coming from, a trip to the doctor’s can help clarify.

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What Can I Do If I Think I Have Posttraumatic Stress Disorder

In addition to getting treatment, you can adjust your lifestyle to help relieve PTSD symptoms. For example, talking with other Veterans who have experienced trauma can help you connect with and trust others exercising can help reduce physical tension and volunteering can help you reconnect with your community. You also can let your friends and family know when certain places or activities make you uncomfortable.

I wanted to keep the war away from my family, but I brought the war with me every time I opened the door. It helps to talk with them about how I feel.

Your close friends and family may be the first to notice that youre having a tough time. Turn to them when you are ready to talk. It can be helpful to share what youre experiencing, and they may be able to provide support and help you find the right treatment for you.

Information For Carers Friends And Relatives

Hypnosis For PTSD

If you are a carer, friend or relative of someone who hears voices, you can get support.

How can I get support?

You can do the following.

  • Speak to your GP about medication and talking therapies for yourself.
  • Speak to your relatives care team about a carers assessment.
  • Ask for a carers assessment from your local social services.
  • Join a carers service. They are free and available in most areas.
  • Join a carers support group for emotional and practical support. Or set up your own.

What is a carers assessment?

A carers assessment is an assessment of the support that you need so that you can continue in your caring role.

To get a carers assessment you need to contact your local authority.

How do I get support from my peers?

You can get peer support through carer support services or carers groups. You can search for local groups in your area by using a search engine such as Google. Or you can contact the Rethink Mental Illness Advice Service and we will search for you.

How can I support the person I care for?

You can do the following.

  • Read information about PTSD.
  • Ask the person you support to tell you what their symptoms are and if they have any self-management techniques that you could help them with.
  • Encourage them to see a GP if you are worried about their mental health.
  • Ask to see a copy of their care plan, if they have one. They should have a care plan if they are supported by a care coordinator.
  • Help them to manage their finances.

You can find out more about:

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