Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms

Having suffered from a traumatic experience, it is crucial to look out for the key symptoms of PTSD.

A friend or relative who has been involved in such an experience will most likely be feeling very anxious and may possibly still be in shock. Depression and anger are also likely responses to a traumatic event.

Look out for physical symptoms such as diarrhoea, irregular heartbeats, headaches and feelings of panic. Panic attacks can become common sign of PTSD, so keep an eye on how regularly these happen. Flashbacks and nightmares of what you have experienced are extremely common and can be very disturbing. Symptoms such as this can be very distressing and mean that the sufferer will continue to relive the event again and again.

If you think that a friend or relative has PTSD, you may notice that they are on high alert at all times, even in what should be a relaxing environment such as socialising with friends. They may feel very anxious and can struggle to sleep. As a way of escaping these constant feelings, drinking too much alcohol or using prescription or illegal drugs can become real problems but will hinder their chances of recovery in the long run.

Common symptoms of PTSD

Those suffering with PTSD will often experience the following symptoms:

  • Reliving the experience through nightmares and even flashbacks at any given point during the day
  • Numbness and loss of deep feelings as a way to protect yourself from hurt
  • Difficulty concentrating as your mind is on other things and past traumatising situations
  • Suffering painful emotions such as guilt, anger, anxiety, panic and depression
  • Avoidance of dealing emotions specifically grief, anger and frustration
  • Avoidance of activities that could trigger memories of the event. This could mean avoiding a friend or relative who may have witnessed the event or situation that has caused you so much trauma
  • Depression
  • Alcohol or drug use drinking too often and turning to drugs are often seen as ‘ways out’ of a problem but the reality is that these will only reduce the chances of recovery
  • Headaches, dizziness and chest pains
  • Irritability and difficulty sleeping
  • Weight loss or gain

If left untreated, these symptoms can become severe and long lasting which can subsequently affect your family, social and work life.

7 tips for dealing with PTSD

  1. Speak to relatives or friends who will support you and help you to discuss any experiences and thoughts or emotions that you are struggling to deal with
  2. Try to overcome the feeling of helplessness by doing something positive like exercise, volunteering and so on
  3. Avoid alcohol and drugs at all costs – these will not solve the problem in the long term
  4. Spend time outdoors in a relaxing environment with positive people who you trust
  5. Join a support group where you can meet other people who are experiencing the same kind of emotions and difficulties as yourself
  6. Try to find out what triggers you to feel the symptoms of PTSD and pull together a plan to avoid these triggers
  7. Understand that relatives and friends will find it difficult to see you struggling, so allow them to understand what you are going through

For further information on the treatment options available for PTSD, then please call: 0845 277 4679.