For most people,
starts within about three 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 six 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 three categories:
Re-experiencing the event:
Dreams/nightmaresFlashbacksAnxious reactions to reminders of the eventHallucinations
Avoiding close emotional contact with family and friendsAvoiding people or places that are reminders of the eventLoss of memory about the eventFeelings of detachment, numbness
Difficulty falling or staying asleepAnger and irritabilityDifficulty concentrating or maintaining attentionBeing easily startledHypervigilance
Physical symptoms may also occur such as:
Impaired memoryStomach and digestive problems Rapid breathing or heart rateSweatingChest painHeadachesDizzinessImmune system problems
People with PTSD may also abuse
Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV-TR).
American Psychiatric Association; 2000.
Stern, TA et al.
Massachusetts General Hospital Comprehensive Clinical Psychiatry. 1st ed. Philadelphia: Mosby Elsevier, 2008.
Last reviewed November 2013 by Michael Woods, MD
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