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What are the symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)?

Symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can be terrifying. They may disrupt your life and make it hard to continue with your daily activities. It may be hard just to get through the day.

PTSD symptoms usually start soon after the traumatic event, but they may not happen until months or years later. They also may come and go over many years. If the symptoms last longer than 4 weeks, cause you great distress, or interfere with your work or home life, you probably have PTSD. There are four types of symptoms: reliving the event, avoidance, numbing, and feeling keyed up.

What should veterans suffering from PTSD do?:

Don’t go it alone. It is important to contact a skilled VA disability advocate familiar with PTSD claims to make sure that your claim is not denied, or is unfairly rated, due to a report from a biased VA doctor. Call us toll-free from anywhere in the United States at 800-953-6224 or fill out our free evaluation form.

    Reliving the event (also called re-experiencing symptoms)

    Bad memories of the traumatic event can come back at any time. You may feel the same fear and horror you did when the event took place. You may have nightmares. You even may feel like you’re going through the event again. This is called a flashback. Sometimes there is a trigger: a sound or sight that causes you to relive the event. Triggers might include loud noises, witnessing another traumatic incident, etc. 

    Avoiding situations that remind you of the event

    You may try to avoid situations or people that trigger memories of the traumatic event. For veterans this typically involves avoiding movies and television programs about war, avoiding smells such as types of food and restaurants where the smells are a reminder, avoiding sounds such as fireworks displays, etc., due to the sound. You may even avoid talking or thinking about the event. 

    Feeling numb

    • You may find it hard to express your feelings. This is another way to avoid memories.
    • You may not have positive or loving feelings toward other people and may stay away from relationships.
    • You may not be interested in activities you used to enjoy.
    • You may forget about parts of the traumatic event or not be able to talk about them.


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    Feeling keyed up (also called hyper-arousal)

    You may be jittery or always alert and on the lookout for danger. This is known as hyper-arousal. It can cause you to:


    • Suddenly become angry or irritable
    • Have a hard time sleeping
    • Have trouble concentrating
    • Fear for your safety and always feel on guard
    • Be very startled when someone surprises you

    What are other common problems?

    People with PTSD may also have other problems. These include:


    • Drinking or drug problems
    • Feelings of hopelessness, shame, or despair
    • Employment problems
    • Relationships problems including divorce and violence
    • Physical symptoms


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