A diagnosis of PTSD requires a discussion with a trained professional. Symptoms of PTSD generally fall into these broad categories:
- Re-experiencing type symptoms – recurring, involuntary and intrusive distressing memories, which can include flashbacks of the trauma, bad dreams and intrusive thoughts.
- Avoidance – staying away from certain places or objects that are reminders of the traumatic event. A person might actively avoid a place or person that might activate overwhelming symptoms.
- Cognitive and mood symptoms – trouble recalling the event, negative thoughts about one’s self. A person may also feel numb, guilty, worried or depressed and have difficulty remembering the traumatic event. Cognitive symptoms can in some instances extend to include out-of-body experiences or feeling that the world is “not real” (derealization).
- Arousal symptoms – exaggerated startle response, hyper-vigilance. Examples might include being intensely startled by stimuli that resembles the trauma, trouble sleeping or outbursts of anger. Hyper-vigilance is being on constant high alert for danger or trauma.