People who suffer with PTSD tend to experience a variety of symptoms.
Avoidance symptoms include:
- Avoiding situations that trigger a memory about the traumatic event
- Avoiding thinking about the traumatic event or acknowledging that it happened
Arousal symptoms include:
- Self-destructive behaviors
- Heightened anger or irritability
- Being easily frightened and startled
Cognitive and mood symptoms include:
- Destructive thoughts about yourself or the world
- Feelings of guilt
- Loss of interest in activities you used to enjoy
- Memory loss
Intrusive memory symptoms include:
- Constant thoughts about the traumatic event
- Physical and emotional reactions to triggers of the event
People with PTSD may have a hard time healing from the trauma they have experienced and it may begin to affect all areas of their lives. The emotional and physical pain can become debilitating.
PTSD does not appear in every person who goes through a traumatic experience or survives a dangerous situation. There are risk factors that make certain individuals more likely to develop PTSD.
Risk Factors for PTSD include:
- Surviving a dangerous or traumatic event
- Seeing someone else get hurt or killed
- Childhood trauma
- Getting hurt
- Having a history of substance abuse or mental illness
- Lacking social support after the traumatic event
- Adding more stress after the dangerous situation (i.e. losing a loved one, losing a job)
- Feelings of powerlessness, terror, extreme fear
Veterans may be more prone to PTSD because they are typically more exposed to situations where they will experience traumatic events. Veterans are more likely to develop PTSD after active duty when they have a greater exposure to combat, have discharged their weapon during war, saw someone gravely injured or pass away in front of them, and do not have the social support needed after deployment.