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Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can consume every facet of your life, from your happy thoughts and memories to your trust and connections with others. While you try to go about your days as usual, you’re bombarded with overwhelming flashbacks of a painful event.

Feeling trapped in the past can be debilitating. But you don’t have to be stuck forever — there is a way out. Before you get the support you need and deserve, understanding PTSD, its symptoms, and its diagnosis is essential.

What Is PTSD?

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental and physical health condition caused by experiencing or witnessing a traumatic, scary, or dangerous event. It can affect your mental, physical, and emotional well-being and impact your livelihood, future experiences, and relationships.

Car accidents, minor and violent crimes, and physical assault are examples of stressful or traumatic events that can cause PTSD. These occurrences can trigger different post-traumatic stress symptoms in people. It’s important to note that not everyone who experiences a frightening situation will develop PTSD.

What Are the 17 symptoms of PTSD?

PTSD is a complex condition that can affect everyone differently. Some people might suffer from PTSD symptoms like mood changes and exaggerated physical reactions, while others can experience dissociative behaviors and self-isolation. Here are 17 common signs and symptoms of PTSD you can participate in:

1. Intrusive Memories

You might experience unexpected intrusive thoughts or memories of a traumatic event. While you have no desire to act on these thoughts, they can happen recurringly.

2. Avoidance

Traumatic experiences can be challenging to think or talk about, leading you to avoid anything like people, places, and objects that remind you of the event. You might also develop dissociative behaviors as a coping mechanism or way of escaping negative feelings and thoughts related to a traumatic experience.

3. Flashbacks

Flashbacks are one of the most common symptoms of PTSD. They can appear as vivid images, smells, sounds, sensations, and emotions that remind you of a challenging experience. Flashbacks can make you feel as if you’re reliving a traumatic event and can be intense and sometimes debilitating.

4. Irritability and Anger

Going through a traumatic event can make you feel on edge or hypervigilant. This anxiousness can make you feel irritable, agitated, and angry, causing emotional and uncontrollable outbursts.

5. Anhedonia

You may experience anhedonia or loss of interest or enjoyment in pleasurable activities. This feeling can lead you to distance yourself from others and lose the desire to do things that once made you happy.

6. Guilt and Casting Blame

You may experience feelings of guilt for not being able to predict or prevent a traumatic experience. You might also blame others as a way of coping and taking control over your experience. Unjust guilt and blame casting can weigh heavily on you and make you feel stuck in past trauma.

7. Hypervigilance

Hypervigilance or arousal can be a normal flight-or-fight stress response to keep you alert. Because of your traumatic experience, this stress response is heightened, making you feel more alert or anxious about surroundings, people, sensations, and sounds, whether they cause alarm or not. Signs of hypervigilance can include:

  • Feeling jittery.
  • Being overly skeptical of other people.
  • Constantly observing and scanning your surroundings for danger.
  • Always being guard or alert.
  • Having difficulty paying attention to conversation and are easily distracted.
  • Having a lack of objectivity.

8. Troubling Beliefs and Feelings

You experience difficult feelings and beliefs that make you see the world and people differently. These beliefs can include:

  • Overwhelming distrust of others.
  • Feeling threatened and like nowhere is safe.
  • Intense feelings of guilt, anger, and shame.
  • Feeling like no one understands you.

9. Emotion Numbing

You have difficulty confronting or dealing with feelings and experiences from a traumatic event, which may lead you to avoid positive or happy emotions or not feeling anything.

10. Memory Loss

You might suffer from memory loss and have difficulty recalling parts of a past event. Fragmented or impaired memory can be a common PTSD symptom because severe stress from trauma can alter the areas of the brain related to stress and memory.

11. Intense Cynicism

PTSD can lead you to have more negative or cynical thoughts about yourself, others, and the world. This cynicism can be overwhelming and make it challenging to notice anything positive. These thoughts can also trigger or exacerbate other symptoms like increased guilt, self-blaming, and shame.

12. Nightmares

People with PTSD might have nightmares or terrifying dreams about past traumatic events. Nightmares combined with anxiety can lead to fears about going to sleep. You might sleep with the lights on, experience broken sleep, or avoid going to bed altogether, leading to insomnia.

13. Insomnia

Sleep disturbance or fears can lead to staying awake, sleeping a few hours a day, heightened alertness when sleeping, inability to relax, and being easily agitated by sounds.

14. Easily Startled and Upset

Because of your heightened sense of alertness and your body’s inability to relax, you might be frightened easily by sudden movements and sounds, such as when someone walks past you, touches you, or in a noisy environment. Your response to these occurrences can be overwhelming, leading to fainting, muscle stiffness, and jerking.

15. Self-Isolation

You isolate or distance yourself from others to avoid event triggers and possible reminders. You might feel detached and lose emotional and social connection with loved ones.

16. Difficulty Concentrating

A combination of insomnia, hyperarousal, and flashbacks can cause difficulty focusing or concentrating on conversation and other daily activities. You can be easily distracted or seem removed from reality, impacting your relationships, work, and other tasks.

17. Harmful and Worrying Behavior

Dealing with PTSD symptoms can be overwhelming, and you might resort to life-threatening or self-harming coping mechanisms, including:

  • Drug and alcohol use.
  • Self-harm and suicidal thoughts.
  • Alcohol misuse.
  • Reckless driving.
  • Eating disorders.
  • Impulsive behaviors.

How Is PTSD Diagnosed?

Post-traumatic stress disorder can be diagnosed through a medical, physical examination. A professional psychologist can also evaluate possible events that can cause PTSD and diagnose signs and symptoms of the condition during confidential treatment sessions. Some PTSD diagnostic criteria can include:

  1. You have direct or indirect exposure to death, trauma, or violent and life-threatening events.
  2. You struggle with reoccurring or re-experienced trauma in the form of nightmares, flashbacks, upsetting and unwanted memories, and physical and emotional distress.
  3. You avoid trauma-related thoughts, feelings, sounds, and other reminders.
  4. Worsening negative thoughts and feelings post-trauma include feeling estranged and isolated, inability to discuss or remember the trauma, exaggerated self-blaming and guilt, and negative assumptions about oneself.
  5. Trauma-related arousal worsened after an event, including hyperarousal, concentration issues, insomnia and other sleep disturbances, irritability and aggression, and harmful behaviors.
  6. Trauma symptoms remain persistent.
  7. Symptoms impair your functional abilities and impact social interactions, work, and other daily activities.
  8. The symptoms are not caused by medication, illness, or substance harm.


Here are some answers to frequently asked questions about PTSD:

  1. How do I know if I have PTSD? Experiencing flashbacks, overwhelming emotions, intrusive thoughts, nightmares, insomnia, and hypervigilance can be signs you have PTSD.
  2. What happens if PTSD goes undiagnosed? Without professional diagnoses and treatment, PTSD can lead to deteriorating mental and physical health and impact your livelihood and relationships with others. PTSD symptoms can become overwhelming, leading to harmful and detrimental coping mechanisms.
  3. How can you help someone with PTSD? You can help someone with PTSD by listening to their thoughts and feelings while being patient and understanding. It’s also essential that someone with PTSD feels supported and loved. You can suggest and help someone through professional treatment.

Get Support and Treatment At Sana

Ready to get support for PTSD and return to a life you enjoy and love? At Sana, we understand the importance of caring and compassionate support for treating posttraumatic stress disorder.

We offer individualized and holistic treatment for PTSD and substance use disorders in a healing and serene environment. Our facility in a picturesque mountain location is private and tranquil, offering you a unique space to learn coping mechanisms, reflect on your feelings and thoughts, and recover at your own pace.

Our experienced staff is dedicated to your treatment process and supports you throughout your recovery.

Reach out today to learn more about our sanctuary and start your recovery process.

Sana is Here to Help

Sana is here for you and your loved ones. Sana at Stowe provides high-quality treatment for those struggling with substance abuse, alcohol addiction, trauma, and PTSD. Our compassionate and professional staff is dedicated to giving our patients the recovery experience they deserve in a safe and healing environment. To learn more or to get started on your journey to recovery today, give us a call or visit our contact form.

Click here to call us: 866-575-9958