For most people,
starts within about 3 months of the traumatic event. For some people, signs of PTSD don't show up until years later. PTSD can happen to anyone at any age. Even children can have it. Some people get better within 6 months, while others may have the disorder for much longer. Symptoms of PTSD may vary in frequency and intensity over time, and may fall into 3 categories:
Re-experiencing the event:
Dreams or nightmaresIntrusive memoriesFlashbacksAnxious reactions to reminders of the event
Avoidance of external reminders of the event, such as places, situations, or people that can trigger memoriesEfforts to avoid feelings, thoughts, memories related to the event Negative changes in mood and cognition related to trauma including detachment, numbness, , difficulties remembering relevant details of the trauma
Difficulty falling or staying asleepAnger and irritabilityDifficulty concentrating or maintaining attentionBeing easily startledHypervigilance
Physical symptoms may also occur such as: Impaired memoryStomach and digestive problemsRapid breathing or heart rateSweatingChest painHeadachesDizzinessImmune system problems
People with PTSD may also abuse
Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5).
American Psychiatric Association; 2013.
PTSD basics. National Center for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
website. Available at:
http://www.ptsd.va.gov/public/PTSD-overview/basics/index.asp. Accessed December 20, 2014.
Post-traumatic stress disorder. American Academy of Family Physicians
Family Doctor website. Available at:
http://familydoctor.org/familydoctor/en/diseases-conditions/post-traumatic-stress-disorder.html. Updated May 2010. Accessed December 20, 2014.
Last reviewed December 2015 by Adrian Preda, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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