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Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD): Symptoms and Effects

Kevin Mathias Jul 22, 2020
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is what one goes through after an extremely traumatic experience. This mental condition affects both men and women irrespective of their age. Read ahead for more information about the symptoms and effects of this illness.

Did You Know?

Post-traumatic stress disorder was initially called 'Shell Shock' or 'Battle Fatigue' syndrome.
Post-traumatic stress disorder can be triggered by traumatic experiences such as near-death events, a serious physical injury, serious automobile accidents, violence, war, torture, any event that causes extreme fear, physical or mental harassment, abuse, natural disasters such as earthquakes and hurricanes.
Abuse of some kind, witnessing the death of a loved one, or even rescue operations can also trigger PTSD.
PTSD can develop in children, adults, and the elderly. If not recognized and treated, it can have serious repercussions at school, home, and the workplace. These repercussions may range from reactions of extreme fear, guilt, anger to revenge, and hence it is imperative to provide therapy and counseling to a patient as early as possible.

Types of PTSD

Acute Stress Disorder

Acute Stress Disorder or ASD is a mental condition that arises in response or reaction to an exceptionally terrifying or traumatic event. This condition lasts from a couple of days to around a month, by when a patient is usually cured or over the trauma. Symptoms can be observed within a month of the event.

Acute Post-traumatic Stress Disorder

The symptoms of this disorder can be observed for more than a month's time. The causes and reasons triggering this problem are pretty much the same as those that cause ASD. It is only when the symptoms of ASD are observed for more than four weeks that we can diagnose it as Acute Post-traumatic Stress Disorder.

Delayed Onset Post-traumatic Stress Disorder

Delayed Onset PTSD is a condition when a person develops the symptoms of the disorder several months or years after the actual occurrence of a traumatic or terrifying event. Patients of this condition are generally the elderly, who develop the disorder in response to an event that they experienced in their childhood or youth.

Chronic Post-traumatic Stress Disorder

Chronic PTSD is a situation where the symptoms of the disorder in a patient last for over three months. It is often observed that the symptoms disappear and reappear every few days or weeks. The reasons triggering this disorder are similar to what trigger the other variations of the condition.


There are a vast number of PTSD symptoms. Most of these symptoms are similar to certain other mental ailments, and one should avoid confusion between them. An expert will be able to differentiate and make a proper diagnosis, so always be honest and precise in symptom description when with your psychiatrist or therapist.
For the sake of convenience and depending upon the kinds of symptoms, they are generally grouped into four major categories.

Intrusive Symptoms

These signs and symptoms are linked with the undesirable trauma or unpleasant event, and can be observed after the event has occurred. These include-
  • Nightmares
  • Involuntary recollection of unpleasant and traumatic memories
  • Flashbacks or reliving the traumatic experience
  • Emotional distress
  • Extreme reaction to any triggers of the traumatic event

Avoidance Symptoms

A person often tends to reduce or lessen suffering by completely avoiding or blocking out anything related to the traumatic event or its effects. These include-
  • Attempts to avoid or successful avoidance of people, places, conversations, and subjects that may lead to thoughts/memories/recollection of the traumatic event.
  • Increased or unusual forgetfulness, especially when it comes to anything related to the trauma. Reduced concentration, especially during situations that may trigger thoughts or memories regarding the trauma.

Negative Mood Symptoms

As is mostly expected, a person suffering from PTSD generally experiences and displays negative changes in his or her mood. These symptoms include-
  • Lack of self-esteem and self-confidence
  • Negativity about other people
  • Feeling emotionally unavailable or incapable of feeling emotions
  • Lack of positive emotions
  • Feeling hopeless about the future
  • Unable to establish and maintain relationships

Changing Emotional Responses

  • Exaggerated responses to fear or sadness
  • Increased irritability
  • Extreme outbursts
  • Violent, aggressive behavior
  • On constant guard for danger
  • Sleep disorders
  • Feeling constantly guilty or ashamed
  • Indulging in self-destructive behavior
Note: Symptoms of PTSD in children are different, and can range from bed wetting despite being toilet trained, enacting the traumatic incident through play, phobias, aches and pains with no apparent cause, to acting out aggressively for little things.


PTSD can have a direct or indirect effect on each and every aspect of the person's life if not treated or taken care of. The effects of this disorder can be mild, or in some cases, extremely severe. Hence, it is imperative that the ones suffering from this condition be treated as soon as possible.
The effects of PTSD can be summarized as:
  • Hallucinations
  • Suicidal behavior
  • Depression
  • Paranoia
  • Eating disorders
  • Inability of expressing emotions appropriately
  • Alternatively, reacting in extreme ways
  • Sleep disorders
  • Recurring nightmares
  • Self-blaming tendencies, guilt
  • Addiction to alcohol and/or drugs
  • Indulging in self-harming activities such as mutilation
  • Panicking nature
  • Emotional problems
If you feel that you're experiencing one or more of the aforementioned symptoms, it would be best to visit the doctor for more help. PTSD can happen to anyone and everyone through no fault of their own, and is nothing to be ashamed of.
If left untreated, it can have some very serious consequences, and hence should be taken care of at the earliest. Don't hesitate to talk to someone close to you as well as an expert, who will help you get over the troubling memories and look at the future with a different, newer mindset and point of view. Good luck!
Disclaimer: The particulars mentioned here are for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for the advice of a mental health professional.