It is normal to have stress reactions after a traumatic event. Your emotions and behavior can change in ways that are upsetting to you. Even though most people have stress reactions following a trauma, they get better in time. But, you should seek help if symptoms:
Symptoms of PTSD may disrupt your life and make it hard to continue with your daily activities. You may find it hard just to get through the day.
There are four types of PTSD symptoms:
Memories of the traumatic event can come back at any time. You may feel the same fear and horror you did when the event took place. For example:
You may try to avoid situations or people that trigger memories of the traumatic event. You may even avoid talking or thinking about the event. For example:
The way you think about yourself and others changes because of the trauma. This symptom has many aspects, including the following:
You may be jittery, or always alert and on the lookout for danger. You might suddenly become angry or irritable. This is known as hyperarousal. For example:
PTSD symptoms usually start soon after the traumatic event. But for some people, they may not happen until months or years after the trauma. Symptoms may come and go over many years. So, you should keep track of your symptoms and talk to someone you trust about them.
If you have symptoms that last longer than four weeks, cause you great distress, or disrupt your work or home life, you probably have PTSD. You should seek professional help from a doctor or counselor.
The National Center for PTSD does not provide direct clinical care, individual referrals or benefits information.
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Last updated October 31, 2013