Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder [PTSD] Symptoms, Causes, and Effects


Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental health illness brought on by watching or experiencing a horrific incident. Flashbacks, nightmares, and acute anxiety, as well as uncontrolled thoughts about the incident, are all possible symptoms.

Most people who experience traumatic situations have temporary difficulties adjusting and coping, but they normally get better with time and adequate self-care. You may have PTSD if your symptoms worsen, linger for months or even years, and interfere with your day-to-day functioning.

It’s crucial to get therapy as soon as PTSD symptoms appear in order to lessen symptoms and enhance function.

Post-Traumatic Stress Symptoms

Symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder can occur as soon as a month after a stressful experience, but they can also take years to appear. These symptoms generate major issues in social and work circumstances, as well as in relationships. They might also make it difficult for you to carry out your routine everyday activities.

Intrusive memories, avoidance, unfavorable changes in thought and attitude, and changes in bodily and emotional reactions are the four forms of PTSD symptoms. Symptoms might change over time or from one individual to the next.

Intrusive memories

Intrusive recollections can cause the following symptoms:

  • Unwanted, uncomfortable recollections of the terrible incident
  • Re-enacting the terrible incident as if it were happening for the first time (flashbacks)
  • Dreams or nightmares concerning the terrible experience are upsetting.
  • Physical or mental reactions to something that reminds you of the terrible incident


The following are examples of avoidance symptoms:

  • Attempting to avoid thinking about or discussing the painful occurrence
  • Avoiding situations, activities, or people that bring up memories of the terrible occurrence

Negative changes in thinking and mood

Symptoms of negative changes in thinking and mood may include:

  • Negative thoughts about yourself, other people or the world
  • Hopelessness about the future
  • Memory problems, including not remembering important aspects of the traumatic event
  • Difficulty maintaining close relationships
  • Feeling detached from family and friends
  • Lack of interest in activities you once enjoyed
  • Difficulty experiencing positive emotions
  • Feeling emotionally numb

Physical and emotional reactions change

Changes in physical and emotional responses (also known as arousal symptoms) can cause the following symptoms:

  • Being easily scared or startled
  • Always on the lookout for danger
  • Self-destructive conduct such as binge drinking or speeding are examples of self-destructive behavior.
  • Having trouble sleeping or concentrating
  • Irritability, furious outbursts, or aggressive conduct are all signs of irritability.
  • Guilt or humiliation that is overwhelming

The severity of PTSD symptoms might change over time. When you’re stressed in general, or when you come across reminders of what you’ve been through, you may have greater PTSD symptoms. You could, for example, hear a car backfire and revisit battle memories. Alternatively, you can witness a news broadcast about a sexual attack and be struck by recollections of your own assault.

PTSD Causes

When you experience, witness, or learn about an event involving real or threatened death, significant injury, or sexual violation, you may develop post-traumatic stress disorder.

Doctors are baffled as to why certain people get PTSD. PTSD is likely caused by a complicated combination of factors, as is the case with most mental health issues:

  • Inherited mental health concerns, such as a family history of anxiety and depression.
  • Stressful experiences, including the quantity and intensity of trauma you’ve experienced in your life.
  • Your temperament is a term used to describe the inherited characteristics of your personality.
  • Your brain’s control over the chemicals and hormones released by your body in reaction to stress.

PTSD Risk factors

Post-traumatic stress disorder can affect people of all ages. Some variables, however, may increase your chances of developing PTSD following a stressful incident, such as:

  • Trauma that is severe or lasts a long time
  • Having gone through various forms of trauma in the past, such as childhood abuse
  • Having a career that puts you at danger of being exposed to traumatic occurrences is a bad idea.
  • military members and first responders, for example
  • Having anxiety or depression, among other mental health issues
  • Do you have issues with substance abuse, such as binge drinking or drug use?
  • Lacking a strong network of family and friends to lean on
  • Having a blood family who suffers from mental illness, such as anxiety or sadness

Kinds of traumatic events

The most common events leading to the development of PTSD include:

  • Combat exposure
  • Childhood physical abuse
  • Sexual violence
  • Physical assault
  • Being threatened with a weapon
  • An accident

PTSD Prevention

Many people have PTSD-like symptoms after surviving a terrible incident, such as being unable to stop thinking about what happened. Trauma can cause feelings of fear, worry, wrath, despair, and guilt. The majority of persons who are subjected to trauma, on the other hand, do not acquire long-term post-traumatic stress disorder.

Getting aid and support as soon as possible might help avoid typical stress reactions from becoming worse and leading to PTSD. This may entail reaching out to family and friends who can listen and provide support. It might entail seeing a mental health expert for a short period of therapy. Some people may find it beneficial to seek support from their religious group.