Symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

By: Jie Hu

          People who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) tend to find it hard to get through the day because they have problems managing themselves in their daily activities. The many symptoms of the disorder disrupt their lives regularly. In fact, the symptoms of PSTD fall into four different categories.

          The first category involves intrusion symptoms. People experiencing this symptom have recurrent memories of traumatic events. They feel the same degree of fear and horror as they did when the event occurred.  They may also have dissociative reactions during flashbacks of these traumatic events which causes them to lose consciousness. The constant flashbacks can leads to sweating, racing heart rate, and afflicted dreams. They can have repeating nightmares and frightening thoughts. Any sounds, smells, pictures, objects, or even words can trigger the recollection of painful memories.  

          The second category consists of avoidance symptoms. This means avoiding any memories or thoughts that the person may associate with the traumatic event. They may try to avoid any activities, places, objects, or people that could trigger negative memories. For example, a PTSD patient who experienced a natural disaster may avoid watching news or movies involving similar events.

          The third category covers hyperarousal symptoms. Symptoms include extreme difficulty sleeping, eating regularly, and concentrating. This can cause a person to engage in impenetrable behaviors or succumb to unsolicited angry outbursts. Symptoms can also cause the sufferer to act on impulsive thoughts, and do not consider the possibly self-destructive consequences of their actions. They can enter into a state of constant alertness; inspecting their surroundings and searching for any signs of danger.

          The final category of symptoms covers unwarranted negative attitudes towards others. They cannot muster any positive thoughts toward any  person or situation because they perceive everything around them as a danger.  A person may lose confidence and trust in themselves or others. The person might often say, “I am a bad person” or “No one can be trusted”, or “The world is completely dangerous” (American Psychiatric Associations 2013). These thoughts and feelings can throw people into negative emotional states, feeling excessive fear, guilt, shame, and anger. It is common for people to lose interest in hobbies they used to enjoy. It can be hard for them to feel satisfied or happy since they always have negative thoughts.  

          Although there are four main types of PTSD symptoms, PTSD patients can develop other problems as well, such as chronic substance abuse. They may drink alcohol or use drugs in excess to relieve their pain even though this may worsen their symptoms in the long run. According to John Lee’s article “Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Drug or Alcohol Abuse”, about 25%-75% of people with this disorder developed substance abuse problems. Women are twice as likely to develop this problem as men.



American Psychiatric Associations (2013). Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (5th Edition). Washington DC: American Psychiatric Publishing.

John, L. (n.d.). Choosehelp. Retrieved from        traumatic-stress-disorder-and-drug-or-alcohol-abuse

National institute of mental health. (n.d.). Retrieved from

U.s department of veteran affairs. (n.d.). Retrieved from

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