People with PTSD may experience feelings of panic or extreme fear, similar to the fear they felt during the traumatic experience – there are four main areas of difficulty;
- Reliving the traumatic event – you may relive the event through recurring and unwanted memories, often in the form of vivid images and nightmares. Sometimes you might experience intense emotional or physical reactions like heart palpitations, or sweating when recalling or being reminded of the event.
- Feeling wound up or overly alert – you might experience sleeping difficulties, irritability and lack of concentration, be startled easily and be constantly on the lookout for danger or threats.
- Avoiding reminders of the event – you might go out of your way to avoid reminders of the event or any places, people, thoughts or feelings associated with it because they bring back painful memories.
- Feeling emotionally numb – you might find you have lost interest in day-to-day activities, feel cut off and detached from friends and family, or feel completely flat or emotionally numb – as if your feelings are ‘offline.’
It is not unusual for people with PTSD to experience other mental health problems at the same time. These may have developed directly in response to the traumatic event or have followed the PTSD. These additional difficulties, most commonly Depression and Anxiety and increased drug and alcohol use, are more likely to occur if PTSD has persisted for a long time.