PTSD Symptoms Checklist

Symptoms of PTSD

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a condition in which a person who has witnessed or experienced frightening, life-threatening or disturbing events has recurring flashbacks, nightmares or anxiety about the events. Unlike unpleasant memories a person might occasionally have of past traumas, these episodes intrude frequently into the daily life of a person with PTSD and become debilitating.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) Symptoms for Civilians and Veterans

While PTSD is often associated with military personnel who have experienced the horrors of combat, the condition can affect anyone. The symptoms of PTSD generally begin within three months of the triggering incident, but can also appear years later.

PTSD symptoms last more than a month and are not attributable to a medical condition or substance abuse. Symptoms are similar but slightly different across three general categories of people: children, adults, and people who have served or are serving in the military.

PTSD Symptoms in Children

  • Flashbacks or intrusive mental images
  • Sleep issues
  • Depression
  • Being easily startled
  • Regressive behaviors such as thumb-sucking or bedwetting
  • Feeling agitated or “on guard”
  • Irritability or aggression
  • Loss of interest in favorite activities
  • Difficulty feeling affectionate
  • Avoiding places or situations that trigger memories
  • Losing touch with reality
  • Physical symptoms such as headaches or stomachaches
  • Reenactment of an event for generally short periods of time
  • Difficulty concentrating in school
  • Fears of dying at an early age

PTSD Symptoms in Adults

  • Recurring upsetting memories
  • Angry outbursts
  • Substance abuse
  • Distancing oneself from loved ones
  • Reckless or self-destructive behaviors
  • Lack of interest in favorite activities
  • Avoidance of potential triggers (certain people, events and situations)
  • Violent behavior or destruction of property
  • Depersonalization
  • Derealization
  • Exaggerated startle response
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Memory issues
  • Vivid and disturbing nightmares
  • Hyperarousal or the opposite
  • Sleep issues
  • Hypervigilance
  • Continual negative mood

PTSD Symptoms in Soldiers/Veterans

  • Intrusive memories or flashbacks
  • Recurring nightmares
  • Hypervigilance
  • Intense distress or irritability
  • Developing a destructive addiction
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Physical reactions when remembering the trauma including sweating, nausea or rapid breathing
  • Avoidance
  • Feeling emotionally numb and detached from others
  • Feeling hopeless about the future
  • Inability to remember important aspects of the traumatic event
  • Anxiety
  • Bouts of moodiness or anger
  • Insomnia

Treating PTSD

In most cases, treatment of PTSD consists of a combination of medication and psychotherapy (or talk therapy) with a mental health professional. Medications used may include antidepressants, sedatives, and sleep aids.

Lifestyle plays an important role in the treatment of PTSD as well. People with the condition are encouraged to get plenty of exercise and avoid self-medicating with alcohol and recreational drugs, as they can have a negative impact on prescribed treatments.

With proper diagnosis and treatment, people with PTSD can lead healthy and productive lives.

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