Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) – Symptoms and causes

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) – Symptoms and causes: Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental health illness that is brought on by experiencing or witnessing a scary incident. Flashbacks, nightmares, and acute anxiety are all possible symptoms, as can uncontrollable thoughts about the event.

The majority of people who experience traumatic situations may initially struggle with adjustment and coping, but with time and proper self-care, they usually recover. If your symptoms worsen over time, last for months or even years, and impair your daily functioning, you may have PTSD.

Receiving good treatment as soon as PTSD symptoms manifest can be crucial for symptom reduction and function improvement.


Post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms may begin within one month of a traumatic experience, but they may last for years. These symptoms contribute significantly to difficulties in social and work circumstances, as well as in relationships. They can also impair your ability to perform routine daily duties.

PTSD symptoms are classified into four categories: intrusive memories, avoidance, unfavorable changes in thinking and attitude, and physical and emotional changes. Symptoms can change over time or between individuals.

Embedded memories

Among the symptoms of intrusive memories are the following:

  • Recurring, unpleasant recollections of the tragic event
  • Reliving the unpleasant experience as if it had just occurred (flashbacks)
  • Regrettable dreams or nightmares revolving around the traumatic incident
  • Severe emotional anguish or bodily reactions to something that brings up unpleasant memories
  • Avoidance

Symptoms of avoidance include the following:

  • Attempting to avoid thinking about or discussing the painful occurrence
  • Avoiding places, activities, and people that bring back terrible memories
    Changes in thought and emotion that are detrimental

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Negative alterations in thinking and mood may manifest themselves in the following ways:

  • Negative feelings about yourself, other people, or the world Hopelessness about the future Memory issues, particularly the inability to recall critical details about the traumatic event
  • Difficulty in establishing and sustaining intimate ties
    Disconnection from family and friends
  • Lack of interest in previously appreciated activities Difficulty expressing pleasant emotions
  • Emotionally numb
  • Alterations in bodily and emotional responses

Symptoms of altered physical and emotional responses (also known as arousal symptoms) may include the following:

  • Becoming prone to being shocked or terrified
  • Constantly on the lookout for danger
    Self-destructive conduct, such as
  • excessive drinking or excessive speeding
  • Inability to sleep Inability to concentrate
  • Irritation, outbreaks of anger, or aggressive conduct
  • Excessive guilt or shame

For children aged six and under, additional signs and symptoms may include the following:

Re-enacting the traumatic incident or certain components of it through play Frightening dreams that may or may not involve elements of the traumatic event
Symptoms’ severity

The severity of PTSD symptoms might change over time. You may experience increased PTSD symptoms when under general stress or when confronted with reminders of what you’ve been through. For instance, you may hear a car backfire and be transported back to combat memories. Alternatively, you may witness a news broadcast about a sexual attack and be struck with recollections of your own assault.

When to consult a physician

If you’ve been experiencing worrisome thoughts and feelings about a traumatic event for more than a month, if they’re severe, or if you’re having difficulty regaining control of your life, speak with your doctor or a mental health expert. Receiving treatment as soon as feasible can help prevent the progression of PTSD symptoms.

If you are contemplating suicide,

If you or someone you know is having suicidal thoughts, get immediate assistance from one or more of the following resources:

  • Make contact with a close friend or family member.
  • Make contact with a minister, a spiritual leader, or an individual from your religious community.
  • Call a suicide hotline

If you believe you are about to injure yourself or attempt suicide, immediately dial 911 or your local emergency number.


If you know someone who is contemplating suicide or has attempted suicide, ensure that someone stays with him or her to keep them safe. Immediately dial 911 or your local emergency number. Alternatively, if it is safe to do so, transport the individual to the nearest hospital emergency department.


Post-traumatic stress disorder can occur as a result of experiencing, seeing, or learning about an event involving real or threatened death, significant injury, or sexual violation.

Doctors do not understand why certain people develop PTSD. As is the case with the majority of mental health problems, PTSD is most likely triggered by a complex combination of:

  • Stressful situations, such as the volume and severity of trauma in your life Inherited mental health concerns, such as a family history of anxiety or sadness
    Inherited characteristics of your personality — frequently referred to as your temperament
  • The manner in which your brain controls the chemicals and hormones released by your body in response to stress

Factors of danger

Post-traumatic stress disorder can affect people of any age. However, several characteristics may increase your risk of developing PTSD following a traumatic event, including the following:

  • Experiencing severe or protracted trauma
  • Having endured prior trauma, such as childhood abuse
  • Possessing a work that exposes you to horrific occurrences, such as military personnel or first responders
  • Possessing additional mental health issues, such as anxiety or despair
  • Having substance abuse problems, such as excessive drinking or drug use
  • Lack of a strong family and social support system
  • Having blood relatives that suffer from mental health issues, such as anxiety or depression

Different types of tragic incidents

The most often occurring incidents that result in the development of PTSD are as follows:

  • Exposure to combat
  • Physical abuse in childhood
  • Sexual assault
  • Assault physical
  • Having a weapon pointed at you
  • An occurrence
  • Numerous other traumatic situations can also trigger PTSD, including a fire, a natural disaster, a mugging, a robbery, a plane accident, torture, kidnapping, a life-threatening medical diagnosis, or a terrorist strike.


Post-traumatic stress disorder has the potential to damage your entire life, including your career, relationships, health, and enjoyment of everyday activities.

PTSD may also raise your risk of developing other mental health conditions, including the following:

  • Anxiety and depression
  • Problems with substance abuse or
  • intoxication
  • Consumption disorders
  • Suicidal ideation and behavior


Many people experience PTSD-like symptoms following a distressing event, such as being unable to stop thinking about what happened. Fear, anxiety, outbursts of wrath, despair, and guilt are all frequent responses to trauma. However, the majority of people who are exposed to trauma do not acquire post-traumatic stress disorder in the long run.

Receiving prompt assistance and support may help prevent typical stress reactions from escalating and transforming into PTSD. This may entail reaching out to family and friends for support and comfort. It may entail receiving treatment from a mental health professional for a brief period of time. Additionally, some individuals may find it beneficial to reach out to their faith group.

Additionally, support from others may help you avoid unhealthy coping mechanisms, such as alcohol or drug abuse.

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