Post Traumatic Stress
A person’s response to a traumatic event may vary. Responses include feelings of fear,
grief and depression. Physical and behavioral responses include nausea, dizziness, and
changes in appetite and sleep pattern as well as withdrawal from daily activities.
Responses to trauma can last for weeks to months before people start to feel normal again.
Most people report feeling better within three months after a traumatic event. If the
problems become worse or last longer than one month after the event, the person may be
suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
What Is PTSD?
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is an intense physical and emotional response to
thoughts and reminders of the event that last for many weeks or months after the traumatic
event. The symptoms of PTSD fall into three broad types: re-living, avoidance and
• Symptoms of re-living include flashbacks, nightmares, and extreme emotional
and physical reactions to reminders of the event. Emotional reactions can include
feeling guilty, extreme fear of harm, and numbing of emotions. Physical reactions
can include uncontrollable shaking, chills or heart palpitations, and tension
• Symptoms of avoidance include staying away from activities, places, thoughts, or
feelings related to the trauma or feeling detached or estranged from others.
• Symptoms of increased arousal include being overly alert or easily startled,
difficulty sleeping, irritability or outbursts of anger, and lack of concentration.
Other symptoms linked with PTSD include: panic attacks, depression, suicidal thought
and feelings, drug abuse, feelings of being estranged and isolated, and not being able to
complete daily tasks.
To be diagnosed with PTSD, an adult must have all of the following for at least 1 month:
-At least one re-experiencing symptom
-At least one avoidance symptom
-At least two arousal and reactivity symptoms
-At least two cognition and mood symptoms
Re-experiencing symptoms include:
Flashbacks—reliving the trauma over and over, including physical symptoms like a racing heart or sweating