Home / Resources / Blog / What are the 17 Symptoms of PTSD?

What are the 17 Symptoms of PTSD?


It’s natural to experience fear and distress during and after a traumatic event, such as a car accident or sexual assault. Fear is part of the body’s “fight-or-flight” response. Individuals encounter a range of emotions after trauma, and many recover from their symptoms shortly after the occurrence. However, those who continue to experience persistent and recurring symptoms for more than a month may be diagnosed with a mental health condition called post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

17 Symptoms of PTSD

Symptoms of PTSD typically begin within three months of the traumatic experience but sometimes emerge later. 

The 17 most common symptoms of PTSD include: 

  1. Intrusive Thoughts 
  2. Nightmares
  3. Avoiding Reminders of the Event
  4. Memory Loss
  5. Negative Thoughts About Self and the World
  6. Self-Isolation; Feeling Detached
  7. Anger and Irritability
  8. Reduced Interest in Favorite Activities
  9. Hypervigilance
  10. Difficulty Concentrating
  11. Insomnia
  12. Vivid Flashbacks
  13. Avoiding People, Places, and Things Related to the Event
  14. Casting Blame
  15. Difficulty Feeling Positive Emotions
  16. Exaggerated Startle Response
  17. Risky Behaviors

What is daily life like for someone with PTSD?

Daily life can be extremely debilitating for people with PTSD. Here are some common symptoms they may experience on a daily basis:

  • Individuals with PTSD often experience a heightened state of alertness to their surroundings. This can lead to being easily startled or feeling constantly on guard.
  • PTSD may cause flashbacks where the person feels as though they are reliving the traumatic event. 
  • Many people with PTSD actively avoid situations, people, or places that remind them of the trauma.
  • Mood swings, feelings of guilt or shame, and difficulty experiencing positive emotions are common in individuals with PTSD. They may also struggle with regulating their emotions
  • PTSD can manifest in physical symptoms such as headaches, stomach aches, or muscle tension. 
  • PTSD can strain relationships and affect social interactions. Individuals may withdraw from friends and family.
  • Nightmares or night terrors related to the trauma can disrupt sleep patterns and lead to chronic sleep deprivation.
  • PTSD can affect a person’s ability to work or engage in simple, daily tasks. Concentration difficulties, memory problems, and emotional instability can make it hard to maintain a consistent routine or meet responsibilities.

How does someone with PTSD behave?

While anxiety and panic attacks are a significant part of PTSD, there are other behaviors as well. Those who suffer from PTSD often experience depression, negative thoughts, impulsive or self-destructive behavior, and in severe cases, suicidal thoughts and ideation. 

People with PTSD may also experience physical symptoms such as fatigue, nausea, or headaches, which generate increased levels of irritability and frustration. They may engage in risky, reckless, or self-destructive behaviors, such as alcohol or drug abuse.

How does PTSD affect personality?

PTSD can dramatically alter an individual’s personality. People with PTSD may have difficulty trusting others, which can negatively impact their relationships, making it difficult to maintain friendships or romantic partnerships. PTSD can affect memory, either through chronic forgetfulness or experiencing vivid flashbacks reliving the traumatic event. Feeling emotionally numb is another common PTSD symptom, which can cause a pervasive sense of detachment. People with PTSD can also become easily angered or agitated.

How to behave with someone who has PTSD?

When a loved one has PTSD, it can change the family’s life dynamic. They can become an entirely different person than the one you knew before the traumatic experience. You may feel fearful and frustrated about the changes you see in your loved one. These feelings are normal for people who have a family member or close friend with PTSD. Here are some ways you can help:

  • Learn as much as you can about PTSD. Knowing how this disorder affects your loved one may help you gain a better understanding of what they’re experiencing.
  • Offer to attend counseling sessions or doctor appointments with your loved one. You can help keep track of medicine and therapy and provide moral support.
  • Tell your loved one you’re always available to listen without judgment and that you respect their timeline for expressing their feelings.
  • Encourage contact with family members and close friends. A support system will help your loved one navigate the challenging recovery from PTSD.
  • Create an environment for your loved one of empathy, patience, and compassion.

Does PTSD ever go away?

The National Center for PTSD reports that symptoms can remain at a consistent level of severity if left untreated. Individuals may have periods when symptoms diminish in intensity and other times when symptoms unexpectedly flare up. PTSD can also worsen during times of mental duress or when they’re reminded of the traumatic event. However, a qualified mental health professional can provide many effective treatment options that pave the road to recovery. 

Treating PTSD can include:

  • Cognitive processing therapy
  • Prolonged exposure therapy 
  • Stress inoculation training
  • Virtual reality exposure
  • Group therapy

Treatment for Co-Occurring Disorders at Into Action Recovery

We provide treatment for drug and alcohol addiction as well as co-occurring disorders in our full-spectrum addiction care programs. If you or a loved one needs help overcoming addiction, we’re here to get you started on your journey to life-long sobriety and recovery. 

Call us today at 844-303-3969 to schedule an appointment or learn more about our treatment programs.

You Might Also Like: