Written by Macy Young

Post-traumatic stress disorder is when someone has difficulty recovering after experiencing or witnessing a terrifying event. It is quite common with about 3 million cases a year in the U.S.

There are four groups that PTSD falls into: instructive memories, avoidance, negative changes in thinking and mood, and changes in physical and emotional reactions. Each of the four have their own symptoms.

Instructive Memories: 

  • Recurrent, unwanted distressing memories of the traumatic event
  • Reliving the traumatic event as if it were happening again (flashbacks)
  • Upsetting dreams or nightmares about the traumatic event
  • Severe emotional distress or physical reactions to something that reminds you of the traumatic event


  • Trying to avoid thinking or talking about the traumatic event
  • Avoiding places, activities, or people that remind you of the traumatic event

Negative changes in thinking and mood:

  • Negative thoughts about yourself, other people, or the world
  • Hopelessness about the future
  • Memory problems, including not remembering important aspects of the traumatic event
  • Difficulty maintaining close relationships
  • Feeling detached from family and friends
  • Lack of interest in activities you once enjoyed
  • Difficulty experiencing positive emotions
  • Feeling emotionally numb

Changes in physical and emotional reaction:

  • Being easily startled or frightened
  • Always being on guard for danger
  • Self-destructive behavior, such as drinking too much or driving too fast
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Irritability, angry outbursts, or aggressive behavior
  • Overwhelming guilt or shame

When experiencing intense symptoms, someone can begin having suicidal thoughts and at that moment, seek emergency help as soon as possible. 

PTSD is a crucial mental disorder and can affect anyone no matter their gender, age, race, etc. Seeking medical help such as therapy or rehab is recommended. To learn more, look online at


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