PTSD Symptoms

PTSD Symptoms vary A LOT.  This is not a complete list (truthfully, I don't think a
"complete" list exists).  But, it will hopefully give you an idea of some of the indications that
you (or your vet) may be suffering from
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.  Please note -
for "most" people, symptoms begin within three months after a traumatic event.  However,
there have been plenty of cases were PTSD doesn't start showing up until years later.

Psychological Symptoms of PTSD

  • Depression (not enjoying, looking forward to, or being excited about anything)
  • Anxiety (you worry about everything, or a lot of things you never even considered
  • Guilt (sometimes called "survivor's guilt" - you feel guilty that you weren't killed or
    injured, but your buddies were)
  • Avoidance / Lack of Emotion (avoiding any situation that would normally cause an
    emotional reaction or simply not responding at all to emotional situations)
  • Intrusive Thoughts (thinking about, or having "flashbacks" of combat, etc., situations
    even when you try not to)
  • Hallucinations (seeing or hearing things that aren't actually there)

Behavioral Symptoms of PTSD

  • Extreme Rage (anger over things that would not have bothered you in the past)
  • Short Fuse (going from relaxed to extremely pissed off in a matter of seconds)
  • Isolating Yourself (not wanting to share thoughts, feelings, or emotions with anyone -
    also may show up as not wanting to be physically close to anyone)
  • Alcohol or Drug Abuse (often called "self medicating" - basically you're using alcohol
    or drugs to cover up the things you don't want to face)
  • Always Being on Guard (you constantly scan crowds, traffic, etc., for possible threats)
  • Feeling Numb (not feeling or feeling very little about the people or activities around
  • Memory Problems (you find yourself losing your car keys, not remembering
    conversations, not being able to recall your phone number)
  • Lack of Concentration (being unable to concentrate on work, hobbies, etc.)
  • Nightmares (this is very common among many vets)
  • Unable to Sleep or Stay Asleep (taking only "cat naps"; lying awake for hours,
    despite being exhausted; getting up frequently to check your home, family, etc.)
  • Being Easily Startled (most often in response to loud noises that are similar to
    explosions, gun fire, etc. - like a car back firing, a balloon popping, or a fireworks
  • Low Self Esteem
  • Feeling Hopeless About the Future
  • Not wanting to see or hear anything that reminds you of your time in Iraq or
  • Lack of Appetite
  • Overeating

Physical Symptoms of PTSD

  • Headaches
  • Rapid Heart Rate or Sweating when reminded of the traumatic event(s)

For a more detailed explanation of the symptoms of PTSD, read our article
PTSD Symptoms: Clinical vs. Real World Terms.

Websites that cover the symptoms of PTSD

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD): Signs & Symptoms - information from the Mayo

The Symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder:Chronic and/or Delayed - information
from, a great site created and maintained by a Vietnam Vet.

Combat PTSD - What are the symptoms? - Written by Ilona Meagher, author of Moving a
Nation to Care

What are the symptoms of PTSD? - an article on

Do you have PTSD? - a self-screening quiz on

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) Signs & Symptoms - information from
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FamilyOfaVet - Real world info about PTSD, TBI, & life after combat
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