Symptoms, Signs, & Effects of PTSD

Posttraumatic stress disorder, more commonly known as PTSD, is a condition that can develop after someone experiences something scary or dangerous. The National Institute of Mental Health says traumatic experiences trigger the fight-or-flight response, which helps the body either defend itself against or avoid danger. 

While this response is completely natural, some people continue to feel stressed or scared even when they aren’t in danger. When this happens, it is likely that a person has developed PTSD and needs professional support to heal from the damage the trauma has caused. 

The compassionate team of experts at Maple Heights Behavioral Health is committed to helping people who have experienced trauma find successful, lasting healing from PTSD. We offer patients the focused, evidence-based care that they need to live healthier, more independent lives. 

Signs & Symptoms of PTSD

There are a lot of stereotypes about how a person who has PTSD usually acts. The truth is that someone who has this condition might show different signs and symptoms of PTSD depending on various factors, like the specific trauma they experienced, what kind of support they had afterward, and whether they were already under extreme stress. Signs and symptoms of PTSD include: 

  • Having nightmares or flashbacks about the event 
  • Being unable to stop thinking about what happened 
  • Having trouble remembering details about the event 
  • Avoiding anything that is a reminder of the event 
  • Being easily startled and often tense or on edge 
  • Being more irritable than usual and having angry outbursts 
  • Feeling like they are a bad person or are worthless 
  • Having out-of-body experiences that feel like the world isn’t real 

Common Causes of & Risk Factors for PTSD

Just because someone experiences something traumatic doesn’t mean they will develop PTSD. However, there are some factors that can heighten someone’s risk for developing this condition. These are common causes of and risk factors for PTSD:

  • Exposure to trauma early on in life, especially during childhood 
  • Childhood challenges like poverty, parental separation, or a death in the family 
  • Environmental factors like a lower socioeconomic status or having a lower education level 
  • Having a family member who has struggled with a behavioral health condition 

PTSD Statistics

The National Alliance on Mental Illness reported the following statistics on PTSD in the United States: 

  • An estimated 9 million people, or 3.6% of the U.S. population, are impacted by PTSD. 
  • About 37% of those who have PTSD are struggling with severe symptoms. 
  • Women (5.2%) are much more likely than men (1.8%) to suffer from PTSD. 

Potential Effects of PTSD

Living through something traumatic can be terrifying and can also take away a person’s sense of control over their life or body. The potential effects of PTSD include: 

  • Strained or damaged relationships with loved ones 
  • Trouble maintaining close relationships 
  • Feelings of intense loneliness and isolation 
  • Difficulty concentrating at work or holding a job 
  • Financial hardship, bankruptcy, or homelessness 
  • Self-medicating PTSD symptoms with drugs or alcohol 
  • Development of a substance use disorder 
  • Development of another behavioral health condition 
  • Thoughts of suicide, attempted suicide, or death by suicide 

Although the effects of PTSD can be devastating, there is hope. By reaching out for professional support, it’s possible to start healing from any damage caused by this illness. 

What Happens if the PTSD Symptoms Return?

Working with experts to start healing from the effects of PTSD is a powerful first step toward improved health and well-being. But what if you find that the symptoms of PTSD start to return even after you’ve finished working with a professional care team? 

This can be a frustrating experience, but it doesn’t mean that you have failed in any way. While you were working with professionals, you likely learned different ways to manage the symptoms of PTSD should they ever return. You can pull from that toolkit to help you keep this temporary setback from affecting you in the long term. 

However, if the symptoms of PTSD start to become too distressing to manage on your own, reach out to your care team. They are available whenever you need additional support and guidance.

Common Underlying or Co-Occurring Disorders

Living with PTSD can be tough enough, but many people also suffer from a substance use disorder or another behavioral health condition on top of this distressing illness. And when someone is struggling with the symptoms of multiple conditions, it can make it even harder to function. 

At Maple Heights Behavioral Health, we are committed to ensuring that you receive comprehensive care that allows you to build a solid healing foundation. We thoroughly evaluate your needs so that you can receive care for any underlying conditions that you might be struggling with.  

Your experiences with trauma don’t have to define you. Let the experts at Maple Heights Behavioral Health help you rediscover hope for a better, brighter tomorrow. 

This content was written on behalf of and reviewed by the clinical staff at Maple Heights Behavioral Health.