What Does PTSD Feel Like?
Symptoms of PTSD typically emerge within three months of the traumatic event, though, in some cases, they may not surface until years later. The severity and duration of the disorder can vary, with some individuals recovering within six months, while others endure it for much longer.
- Reliving: Individuals with PTSD repeatedly experience the traumatic event through intrusive thoughts, memories, flashbacks, and even hallucinations and nightmares. Certain triggers can cause significant distress, such as anniversaries of the event.
- Avoiding: People with PTSD may avoid people, places, thoughts, or situations that remind them of the trauma. This avoidance may lead to feelings of detachment and isolation from family and friends, along with a loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities.
- Increased Arousal: This category encompasses heightened emotional reactions, difficulties in relating to others and expressing affection, sleep disturbances, irritability, anger outbursts, difficulty concentrating, and being excessively vigilant or easily startled. Physical symptoms may also manifest, including increased blood pressure, heart rate, rapid breathing, muscle tension, nausea, and diarrhea.
- Negative Cognitions and Mood: Individuals with PTSD may experience negative thoughts and emotions, including self-blame, estrangement, and vivid recollections of the traumatic event.
PTSD Causes and Risk Factors
The reactions to traumatic events can vary significantly among individuals. Not everyone who experiences trauma will develop PTSD, as each person has a unique ability to cope with fear, stress, and trauma. Moreover, the type of support and assistance received from friends, family members, and professionals following the traumatic experience can influence the development and severity of PTSD symptoms.
- History of Other Mental Health Problems: Individuals with pre-existing mental health conditions may be more susceptible to PTSD.
- Family History of Mental Health Problems: Having blood relatives with mental health issues can contribute to the risk of developing PTSD.
- History of Substance Abuse: Individuals with a history of alcohol or drug abuse may be more vulnerable to PTSD.
PTSD affects around 3.5% of adult Americans, approximately 8 million individuals, within a year. Moreover, an estimated 6% of people will experience PTSD at some point in their lives. The disorder can emerge at any age, including childhood, with a higher prevalence among women. This may be attributed to the fact that women are more likely to be victims of domestic violence, abuse, and rape.
Free Mental Health Assessment
Mental Health America recognizes the significance of accessible and prompt mental health support for individuals experiencing potential symptoms of mental health conditions. To aid in this effort, MHA offers free mental health screenings. Through awareness, support, and appropriate interventions, we can work together to build a more compassionate and mentally healthy world for everyone.
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline988lifeline.org
The 988 Lifeline is a national network of local crisis centers that provides free and confidential emotional support to people in suicidal crisis or emotional distress 24 hours a day, 7 days a week in the United States.
Crisis Text Linecrisistextline.org
Text HOME to 741741 from anywhere in the United States, anytime. Crisis Text Line is here for any crisis. A live, trained Crisis Counselor receives the text and responds, all from our secure online platform. The volunteer Crisis Counselor will help you move from a hot moment to a cool moment.
Trevor Project Lifelinethetrevorproject.org
Text ‘START’ to 678-678
Or chat online
Trained counselors that understand the challenges LGBTQ people face.