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What Are The 17 Symptoms of PTSD?

Illustration of a transparent head with a cracked glass effect, struck by a hammer, with a small, despondent figure seated inside, symbolising psychological distress

What Are The 17 Symptoms of PTSD?

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a mental health condition triggered by experiencing or witnessing a terrifying event. While it’s often associated with military veterans, PTSD can affect anyone who has gone through intense trauma. For early detection and effective treatment, it is crucial to understand the symptoms. This article will cover the 17 symptoms of PTSD and aims to provide you with an insight into this complex condition.

1. Intrusive Memories

PTSD often involves intrusive memories. This includes recurrent, unwanted distressing memories of the traumatic event, flashbacks, or reliving the trauma over and over. Heart palpitations or sweating are two examples of physical reactions that intrusive memories often cause.

2. Nightmares and Disturbed Sleep

Many people who experience PTSD often suffer vivid nightmares that frequently revolve around the traumatic event. This symptom often leads to insomnia or other sleep disturbances, which can significantly impact daily functioning.

3. Avoidance

Avoidance behaviour is a common response to trauma. Individuals with PTSD may steer clear of places, activities, or people that remind them of the traumatic experience. By doing so, it often leads to them isolating themselves.

4. Emotional Numbness

Emotional numbness refers to the inability to experience feelings, particularly those that are associated with the trauma. People might feel detached from others and lose interest in activities they once enjoyed.

5. Negative Thoughts and Mood

Persistent negative thoughts about oneself or others, hopelessness about the future, and memory problems, especially about the traumatic event, are common. This symptom also includes feelings of detachment and estrangement from others.

6. Irritability and Angry Outbursts

PTSD can cause people to be easily irritable or have angry outbursts. These episodes may occur without any clear trigger and can lead to aggressive behaviour.

7. Guilt and Shame

Intense emotional experiences commonly associated with PTSD include survivors’ guilt, feeling responsible for the event, or feeling ashamed of having survived when others did not.

8. Self-Destructive Behaviour

Engaging in risky or self-destructive behaviour, such as substance abuse or dangerous driving, is not uncommon in individuals suffering from PTSD.

9. Hypervigilance

Hypervigilance is a state of heightened alertness where the individual is constantly on the lookout for danger. This symptom can lead to exaggerated startle responses.

10. Difficulty Concentrating

A common issue for those with PTSD is trouble focusing on tasks at hand. This can affect work, studies, and daily activities.

11. Exaggerated Startle Response

People with PTSD may have an exaggerated response to being startled. A sudden noise or unexpected touch can trigger a strong emotional or physical reaction.

12. Physical Symptoms

Although they might not be directly linked to PTSD, physical symptoms such as headaches, dizziness, stomach problems, and chest pain often accompany the disorder.

13. Loss of Interest

A loss of interest in previously enjoyable activities is a sign of PTSD. This can lead to social withdrawal and a sense of disconnection from life.

14. Feeling Overwhelmed by Emotions

Intense emotional reactions, such as bouts of rage, uncontrollable crying, or panic attacks, are symptoms that some individuals with PTSD might experience.

15. Difficulty Maintaining Close Relationships

The impact of PTSD symptoms can make it challenging to maintain close relationships with friends, family, and romantic partners. This is often due to communication difficulties and emotional withdrawal.

16. Heightened Anxiety or Depression

PTSD is often accompanied by anxiety or depression, worsening the individual’s overall mental health challenges.

17. Feeling Jumpy or Easily Startled

A general sense of being ‘on edge’ or easily startled by everyday sounds or movements is a common experience for those with PTSD.

The 17 symptoms of PTSD include a wide range of emotional, psychological, and physical responses to trauma. It’s important to understand these symptoms to identify PTSD in yourself or others and to get the right treatment and support.

After discussing the 17 symptoms of PTSD, it’s also helpful to know how these symptoms can happen in daily life and personal recognition of the condition. Below are some of the most frequently asked questions that will help provide a further understanding of PTSD.

What does PTSD in everyday life look like?

PTSD in everyday life can manifest in various ways, depending on the individual. Commonly, it might look like avoidance of certain places or people that remind the person of their trauma, unexpected emotional outbursts, difficulty sleeping, and frequent flashbacks or intrusive thoughts about the traumatic event. As already mentioned, these symptoms can significantly disrupt daily routines, work, and personal relationships.

How do you know if you’re struggling with PTSD?

Recognising PTSD in oneself involves being aware of symptoms like reliving traumatic events, avoiding reminders of the trauma, mood swings, feelings of numbness, or constant alertness. These experiences, which connect to the earlier discussed symptoms, could be indicators of PTSD. Consulting a healthcare professional for an accurate diagnosis and treatment options is crucial.

How can you tell if someone has PTSD?

Identifying PTSD in someone can be challenging, as symptoms can vary widely. However, some signs to look out for include noticeable changes in behaviour like increased irritability, avoidance of certain activities or places, trouble sleeping, frequent nightmares, and being easily startled. If you notice these changes in someone who has experienced a traumatic event, it may be a sign they are dealing with PTSD.

Can PTSD go away on its own?

PTSD usually doesn’t resolve itself without treatment. Some symptoms may lessen over time, but professional intervention is typically necessary to fully address the condition and prevent worsening of symptoms.

What are the long-term effects of untreated PTSD?

Leaving PTSD untreated can lead to serious long-term issues like chronic anxiety and depression, increased risk of substance abuse, relationship and work difficulties, and a heightened likelihood of other mental health disorders. It’s essential to seek treatment early to avoid these outcomes.

Are there specific treatments or therapies for PTSD?

Several effective treatments are available for PTSD, including various forms of neurodynamic therapies like Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing (EMDR). Best results are seen when a tailored approach is offered, that address not just the psychological aspects of PTSD but also its physical and emotional dimensions. Cognitive-behavioural strategies, Kinetic Shift, IEMT and other modern psychodynamic techniques have shown significant success in trauma recovery, challenging the usual traditional methods, such as counselling. Any treatment or therapy should focus on long-term, sustainable recovery. It’s not just about coping in the short term; it’s about building resilience and strategies that last a lifetime.

The 17 Symptoms of PTSD

Recognising the 17 symptoms of PTSD is vital for seeking timely help and support. If you or someone you know is showing signs of PTSD, it’s important to reach out to a healthcare professional. Remember, PTSD is a treatable condition, and with the right support, individuals can regain control over their lives and start their journey of recovery.

Future Edge Therapy – Bonita Ackerman du Preez

Bonita Ackerman du Preez, Founder and Director of Future-Edge Therapy, is a Registered Trauma Recovery Therapist, serving Bedford, Bedfordshire, and beyond.

Specialising in PTSD, trauma, grief recovery, and anxiety management, Bonita helps individuals conquer fears and dispel negative beliefs stemming from past experiences.

Bonita’s extensive qualifications include:

– British Bachelor’s Degree in Commerce and Education
– Degree/Diploma Personal Professional Development Coaching – The Coaching Academy/ International Coaching Federation (ICF)
– Certified Coach and Practitioner in Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) – American Board of NLP
– Certified Time Line™ and Hypnotherapy Practitioner – American Board of NLP
– Dip. EMDR – The Open College UK (Approved Training Centre of the Complementary Medical Association CMA)
– Certified Kinetic Shift Practitioner – UK Hypnosis Academy
– Certified Confidence and Resilience Coach
– Certified Integrated Eye Movement Therapy (IEMT) – The Association of IEMT Practitioners
– Ex-Deputy Headteacher with 23 years of teaching experience
And more…

Bonita’s expertise and compassion make her a valuable resource for trauma recovery, PTSD, and related challenges. If you or someone you know seeks support, Bonita Ackerman du Preez and Future-Edge Therapy are here to help.

If you would like to know more about Future-edge Therapy or have any questions, we would love to hear from you. Please feel free to fill out our enquiry form and we will get back to you as soon as possible.