The symptoms of PTSD can hamper a person’s daily life and activities. These usually appear within a month of the trauma or as mentioned previously, may take several months or years to appear. Some individuals experience symptoms on an “on and off” basis, meaning they will feel bad at certain periods and will feel fine at most other times. There are some who experience the symptoms constantly. The symptoms vary widely from person to person, but can be generally be categorized in the following manner:
This is the most common symptom amongst sufferers of PTSD. It entails involuntarily and vividly re-living the trauma by means of flashbacks, nightmares or distressing images and sensations. The “re-experience” can be triggered by certain reminders of the trauma, such as, in case of rape, the smell of their rapist’ cologne, rape jokes, sexually violent scenes on TV etc. It also leaves the sufferer wondering why the event happened and whether they could have done anything to prevent it also with feelings of guilt or shame. Some people also have physical manifestations such as pain, sweating, trembling, etc.
2. Panic attacks:
These are characterized by attacks of intense anxiety where the person hyperventilates, trembles, becomes nauseous, sweats, or experiences chest pain. Re-experiencing and panic attacks often occur together.
3. Avoidance and emotional numbing:
This is a very common finding amongst people suffering from PTSD. It involves trying to avoid factors that would make the person relive the event. Avoiding people, places or conversations related to the event is common. People suffering from PTSD often to try not feel anything at all. This sort of “emotional numbing” can lead to a person becoming isolated and withdrawn or results in them giving up activities that would previously bring them pleasure.
Sufferers of PTSD are often found to be in a state of anxiousness, find it difficult to relax or in a sate of constant vigilance. This is characterized by being easily startled, always feeling stressed, having regular headaches, insomnia, irritability, sudden weeping, sudden outbursts of anger, etc. Being in this state of hyper-arousal can significantly affect a person’s daily activities as well relationships with people in their lives.
People with PTSD may also suffer from:
· Depression, anxiety, phobias
· Drug or alcohol misuse
6. Symptoms in children:
Children, like adults, can also suffer from PTSD. Most symptoms have been found to be the same amongst children and adults. These include, insomnia, upsetting nightmares, losing interest in previously enjoyed activities. Physical symptoms like headaches or stomachaches are also common.
However, the following are a few symptoms that are specific to children:
· Being unusually anxious or afraid about being separated from a parent
· Re-enacting the traumatic event through their play