What Is PTSD?


You have experienced a traumatic event, or a series of traumatic events. The event may be over, but you may now be experiencing or may experience later some strong emotions or physical reactions. It is very common, in fact, quite normal for people to experience emotional shocks when they have passed through a horrible event.

Sometimes the emotional aftershocks (or stress reactions) appear immediately after the traumatic event. Sometimes they may appear a few hours or a few days later. And, in some cases, weeks or months may pass before the stress reactions appear.

The signs and symptoms of a stress reaction may last a few days, a few weeks, or a few months and occasionally longer depending on the severity of the traumatic event. With the understanding and the support of loved ones, stress reactions usually pass more quickly. Occasionally, the traumatic event(s) is so painful that professional assistance from a counselor may be necessary. This does not imply craziness or weakness. It simply indicates that the particular trauma was just too powerful to manage without help.

Here are some very common signs and signals of a stress reaction:

(* Definite indication of the need for medical evaluation!)

Physical Signs

Fatigue Muscle tremors Twitches Chest pain* Difficulty breathing* Elevated blood pressure Rapid heart rate Thirst Visual difficulties Vomiting Nausea Grinding of teeth Weakness Dizziness Profuse sweating Chills Shock symptoms* Fainting

Cognitive Signs

Blaming someone Confusion Poor attention Poor decisions Heightened or lowered alertness Hyper-vigilance Poor concentration Memory problems Poor problem solving Difficulty identifying familiar objects or people Increased or decreased awareness of surroundings Loss of time, place, or person orientation Disturbed thinking Nightmares Intrusive images Poor abstract thinking

Emotional Signs

Anxiety Guilt Grief Denial Uncertainty Severe panic (rare) Emotional shock Fear Agitation Depression Apprehension Irritability Inappropriate emotional response Intense anger Feeling overwhelmed Loss of emotional control etc.

Behavioral Signs

Change in activity Change in speech patterns Emotional outbursts Suspiciousness Withdrawal Inability to rest Change in usual communications Hyper-alert to environment Loss or increase of appetite Alcohol consumption Antisocial acts Non-specific bodily complaints Startle reflex intensified Pacing Erratic movements Change in sexual functioning etc.

(Source: Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health)

I would like to thank CalypsoSun for the use of the above from her site. To visit her site, an excellent resource about PTSD, visit the link below.

CalypsoSun's Site

PTSD - What Is It?

Some Other Pages On My Site

PTSD - a note and more links
About Me
HOME - Site Index

Contact Me

send an email