Post-traumatic stress disorder is a condition marked by the inability to process trauma in a normal way. This causes the sufferer to experience ongoing symptoms such as fear, difficulty sleeping, and anxiety, often when things are seemingly safe. 

There is no foolproof way to self-diagnose PTSD, but anyone suffering from the following symptoms and signs of PTSD should seek professional advice from a trusted stress-disorder treatment provider

Sign #1 – Nightmares 

People with post-traumatic stress disorder have a difficult time processing the trauma they’ve witnessed or experienced. They capture the memory differently for unknown reasons, resulting in frequent reminders of the traumatic event. This can lead to rumination, sleep disturbances, and nightmares.

Sign #2 – Anxiety 

Anyone who has lived through a traumatic experience doesn’t want to re-experience it. However, people with PTSD believe they will re-experience it if they speak about it or are reminded of it in any way. This belief causes them to engage in avoidance behaviors that cause hypervigilance, anxiety, and fear. 

Sign #3 – Flashbacks

When humans experience trauma, the brain takes a snapshot of the entire event. This snapshot includes sensory details, including scents, sounds, and sights. A person with PTSD doesn’t process this memory in a normal way. This causes them to re-experience the trauma when these sensory details are present. This is called a PTSD flashback. Some flashbacks cause people to feel detached from reality and right back to the traumatic event.

Sign #4 – Intrusive Thoughts

An intrusive thought is negative or disruptive enough to cause anxiety or distress. People with post-traumatic stress disorder report having intrusive thoughts about the traumatic event. This causes them to have frequent memories of it, disrupting their sleep and making it difficult to concentrate.

Sign #5 – Depression

Depression is a mental health condition marked by feeling sad or down often for two or more weeks. According to the National Center for PTSD, people with PTSD are up to five times more likely to experience depression than those without it.

Sign #6 – Isolation 

Post-traumatic stress disorder causes people to isolate themselves from others to avoid feeling overwhelmed. While this is a common coping mechanism, it often leads to worsening symptoms and even depression.

Sign #7 – Hopelessness

People with post-traumatic stress disorder may think about the traumatic event and experience overwhelming emotions related to it regularly. Despite avoiding reminders of the trauma, they may still experience symptoms leading them to feel out of control or hopeless.

Sign #8 – Irritability 

People with PTSD live in constant fear of re-experiencing the trauma. This causes them to feel on edge, agitated, and even irritable. These emotions can also lead them to misinterpret a person’s actions or intentions.

Sign #9 – Cognitive Impairment 

Many of the hallmark symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder are caused by cognitive impairment. Cognitive impairment is a condition that makes it hard to recall facts, make decisions, or judge situations accurately. Post-traumatic stress disorder or a pre-existing brain disorder can cause this condition.

Sign #10 – Hyper-vigilance 

Post-traumatic stress disorder is characterized by a fear of re-experiencing the trauma when reminded of it, leading to hyper-vigilance and extreme alertness.

Sign #11 – Lack of Motivation

Trauma can create abnormalities in the motivational centers in the brain – including the hippocampus – resulting in a lack of motivation. A lack of motivation is a diminished drive to do the things you want or have to do.

Sign #12 – Poor Concentration 

Poor concentration in PTSD occurs because of intrusive thoughts, anxiety, flashbacks, or overstimulation. A person experiencing these symptoms may have difficulty concentrating on a specific task.

Sign #13 – Daytime Fatigue 

Some people with PTSD have frequent nightmares or difficulty falling asleep due to anxiety or ruminating about the trauma. This lack of regular sleep can contribute to daytime fatigue.

Sign #14 – Easily Startled

When your brain senses danger, it releases hormones that kick in the body’s emergency response system. These hormones include epinephrine, cortisol, and norepinephrine. Long after the trauma is over, people with PTSD experience the release of these hormones when they are reminded of the situation. This results in them feeling easily startled or triggered.

Sign #15 – Avoidance Behavior 

People with post-traumatic stress disorder avoid anything that reminds them of the trauma. This includes discussing the event, looking it up, or visiting specific locations. Many live in fear that confronting the memory in any way will cause them to relive the experience, so they avoid mentioning it.

Sign #16 – Self-Destructive Behavior 

To cope with the strong emotions connected to post-traumatic stress disorder, some people engage in destructive behaviors such as:

  • Abusing substances
  • Gambling
  • Self-harm
  • Pornography addiction
  • Over or under-eating

Sign #17 – Feeling Shame or Guilt

Survivors of a traumatic event may feel guilty for surviving it. Others may feel bad that they couldn’t stop it or that their actions may have contributed to it, causing them to feel ashamed.

Finding Help for PTSD

It’s important to remember that not everyone with PTSD will experience it the same way. The above-listed signs are just 17 of the many signs and symptoms attributed to post-traumatic stress disorder.

If you notice these signs in yourself or a loved one after experiencing a traumatic event, reaching out for help is important. The right mental health treatment options can help you feel better and restore peace of mind.

To learn more, call (800) 270-4315 today.

  1. National Institute of Mental Health. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
  2. Cleveland Clinic. What is Hypervigilance
  3. Harvard Medical School. Managing intrusive thoughts
  4. U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Depression, Trauma, and PTSD