Recognize the signs of PTSD

Sometimes, when you experience a traumatic event — a car accident, an IED blast, military sexual trauma, or the death of a fellow Service member — that moment can continue to bother you weeks, months, and even years later.

That can mean reliving the event: constantly replaying it in your head. It can mean avoiding places or things that remind you of the experience. It can also mean nightmares, sleeplessness, or anxiety. You might feel numb or, conversely, feel hyperaware of your surroundings.

The symptoms and effects of posttraumatic stress disorder, commonly known as PTSD, can disrupt your everyday life. People with PTSD sometimes withdraw from their family members and friends. They can find it hard to concentrate, startle easily, and lose interest in things they used to care about. Some may try to dull their feelings by misusing alcohol or drugs.

If you think you might have PTSD, there are resources to help you recover. Even if your symptoms come and go — or surfaced months or years after the traumatic event — effective treatments are available. Explore this page to learn about treatment options, self-help tools, and more.

If you are bothered by thoughts and feelings from a trauma, you may wonder if you have PTSD. Taking a screening — either online or at a VA medical center (VAMC) — is a good idea. Only a mental health care provider can diagnose PTSD, but the screening can help you and your provider understand if you might benefit from treatment.

Hear veterans talk about their experience with PTSD at the VA site About Face: https://www.ptsd.va.gov/apps/aboutface/

Author
Angelo Sambunaris, M.D.

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