What is PTSD?

Who's at Risk?





Getting Help

What are the symptoms of PTSD?

People respond in different ways to extreme trauma. Many people who experience extreme trauma do not develop PTSD. However, for those who do, PTSD symptoms usually appear within several weeks of the trauma, but some people don’t experience symptoms until months or even years later.

Three categories – or "clusters" – of symptoms are associated with PTSD.


  • Re-living the event through recurring nightmares or other intrusive images that occur at any time. People who suffer from PTSD also have extreme emotional or physical reactions such as chills, heart palpitations or panic when faced with reminders of the event.

  • Avoiding reminders of the event, including places, people, thoughts or other activities associated with the trauma. PTSD sufferers may feel emotionally detached, withdraw from friends and family, and lose interest in everyday activities.

  • Being on guard or being hyper-aroused at all times, including feeling irritability or sudden anger, having difficulty sleeping or concentrating, or being overly alert or easily startled.

People with PTSD may have low self-esteem or relationship problems or may seem disconnected from their lives. Other problems that may mask or intensify symptoms include:

  • Psychiatric problems such as depression, dissociation (losing conscious awareness of the “here and now”) or another anxiety disorder like panic disorder.

  • Self-destructive behavior including:

- Alcohol or drug abuse
  - Suicidal impulses
  - High-risk sexual behaviors that may result in unintended pregnancy or sexually transmitted diseases (STD), including HIV 
  - Other high-risk behavior that may be life-endangering, such as fast or reckless driving
  • Physical complaints, any or all of which may be accompanied by depression, including:

- Chronic pain with no medical basis (frequently gynecological problems in women)
  - Stress-related conditions such as chronic fatigue syndrome or fibromyalgia
  - Stomach pain or other digestive problems such as irritable bowel syndrome or alternating bouts of diarrhea and constipation
  - Eating disorders
  - Breathing problems or asthma
  - Headaches
  - Muscle cramps or aches such as low back pain
  - Cardiovascular problems
  - Sleep disorders


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The PTSD Alliance is supported by Beachway Therapy Center, a Florida based addiction treatment center.