How to Recognize the Signs and Symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder


According to the National Association on Mental Health nearly 7.7 million Americans are diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder with 37% of those cases being classified as severe.

Traumatic events such as car injuries, military combat and other life altering events can have long lasting negative effects resulting in a number of symptoms. Below is a list of warning signs to recognize Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Anxiety – Anxiety is an emotion characterized by an unpleasant state of turmoil often accompanied by nervous behavior. Anxiety is considered to have the expectation of a future threat, often associated with feelings of uneasiness and worry.

Paranoia – Paranoia is a thought process believed to be heavily influenced by anxiety and fear, often to the point of delusion or irrationality. Paranoia thinking often includes persecutory, or beliefs of conspiracy concerning a perceived threat.

Avoidance – Those experiencing avoidance display a pattern of social inhibition, feelings of inadequacy and inferiority, extreme sensitivity to negative evaluation and avoidance of social interaction despite a strong desire to be close to others. Symptoms commonly consist of feeling associated with uneasy, anxious, lonely, unwanted and isolated from others.

Emotional Numbing – Emotional numbing symptoms generally refer to those symptoms reflecting a loss of interest in important once positive activities, feeling distant from others, and experiencing difficulties having positive feelings such as happiness or love.

Isolation – Characterized as a mental process involving the creation of a gap between an unpleasant or threatening cognition and other thoughts and feelings.

Hyper Arousal – The consequence of heightened anxiety and altered arousal responses and includes symptoms such as: Having difficulty falling or staying asleep.

Irritability – The feeling of agitation. When you are irritable you become frustrated easily. Irritability is often associated with stressful situations.

Guilt – A cognitive or an emotional experience that occurs when a person believes or realizes accurately or not that he or she has compromised his or her own standards of conduct or has violated a universal moral standard and bears significant responsibility for that violation.

Shame – A painful feeling of humiliation or distress caused by the consciousness of wrong doing or foolish behavior.

Its important to recognize the signs and symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder. These feeling and emotions are easy to ignore and if gone untreated can have life long effects. If you or someone you know is showing one or more of these symptoms, contact a therapist or your local NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) office and ask for help. Psychologists can work with you to create a wellness plan.

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About the Author:  Lou Figueroa is a writer and inspirational speaker based out of Southern California. He teaches principles of balance and wellness to business associations, chambers of commerce and nonprofit organizations across America. To learn more about coping with post traumatic stress disorder and depression following life altering events, visit



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