Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental health condition that affects about 1-in-5 veterans as well as civilians, totaling nearly 8 million people per year. PTSD is caused by experiencing or witnessing traumatic events. Some events that can trigger PTSD include combat, sexual assault, or other life-threatening events. 

When people experience or witness an event, they may have flashbacks, nightmares, withdrawal, and severe anxiety. When these symptoms persist for several months or even years and interfere with day-to-day life, PTSD may be the cause. 

It is important to seek treatment when you notice symptoms of PTSD to effectively manage and reduce their occurrences and protect your quality of life.

PTSD managing symptoms
PTSD message conceptual design


Often symptoms of PTSD appear within a few weeks of a life-threatening event. However, sometimes to protect our conscience, our brains bury the memories and appear years later. The episodes presented by PTSD can wreak havoc on daily life and create turmoil with your ability to perform job duties and maintain healthy relationships.

When symptoms present themselves, they are usually categorized into one of four main classifications of symptoms. They are:

  1. Avoidance
  2. Reliving the event
  3. Adverse changes to mood or thoughts
  4. Physical/Emotional changes (Hyperarousal)


It may take several repeat instances for you to recognize that a specific place or event may be a trigger. Once that pattern is established, you may find yourself avoiding people or events that bring up a memory of the event. Some examples could include festivals, concerts, and other places where there are crowds and loud noises or flashes of light. 

Reliving the Event

A sensory memory, such as a visual cue, a smell, or sound, can remind you of the event and put you in a similar mental state of horror when you initially experienced the event. This can be presented in the form of flashbacks, nightmares, or another seemingly unrelated event that puts your body in a state of alert, causing you to relive the event. These can also be known as intrusive memories as they can happen any time and prohibit your enjoyment of regular activities.

Unfortunately, even young children are at risk of experiencing trauma. When a child suffers PTSD symptoms, they can display evidence of symptoms during play by re-enacting the traumatic event or aspects of the traumatic event or suffering from nightmares that may or may not include elements of the traumatic event.

Adverse changes to mood or thoughts

Often accompanied by avoidance, negative and adverse changes to your mood and thoughts typically cause emotional withdrawal. When this happens, your very thoughts are stopping you from enjoying life beyond the traumatic event. Some examples include negative thoughts about yourself, others, or the world, hopelessness, lack of interest, and an overcoming sense of numbness and detachment. When you experience these symptoms, relationships suffer, and it’s harder to reach out and trust others, especially when you may be trying to seek help. 

Physical/Emotional changes (Hyperarousal)

During intense and life-threatening situations, our bodies go into survival mode and produce adrenaline. This forces us to react in either a fight-or-flight manner for self-preservation or to protect another. However, if you are battling symptoms of PTSD, your body may be sending you false alerts and putting your body and mind into an overactive sense of alertness or hyperarousal. These changes can appear as being easily startled, feeling paranoid, trouble concentrating, aggressive demeanor, and self-destructive behaviors, including substance abuse.

When to seek help

You are a survivor. You have already been through and come out the other side of a traumatic event. The next step is to recognize when you need help. If you find you are experience symptoms for over a month or the symptoms are so severe they are interfering with your quality of life, it’s time to reach out. Many people who have PTSD feel uncomfortable talking about it with family members. This may be because their family did not also witness or experience the same event, or there is a feeling of uncertainty about how the information will be received. If you are experiencing these symptoms, talk to your doctor or a counselor. They can help get you on the right track to manage symptoms and get connected with health professionals that are dedicated to helping people just like you. You are not alone in this battle, and when you get help early, your chances of overcoming the symptoms are so much greater—allowing you to return to enjoying life confidently.

PTSD resources


Here are just some resources to help you overcome the battle with PTSD. 

  • Reach out to a close friend
  • Contact someone in your faith community.
  • Make an appointment with your doctor or mental health professional.
  • Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255) to reach a trained counselor. Use that same number and press 1 to contact the Veterans Crisis Line.
  • Online Crisis Chat for veterans (Confidential support)
  • For emergencies, go to the nearest Emergency Room
  • If you are in immediate fear that you or someone else may hurt themselves, call 911.

Remember, this is YOUR life; it does not belong to PTSD. Don’t let this illness force you to miss out on important events, loving relationships, and rewarding opportunities still headed your way. You are not fighting this battle alone. Reach out, and get help today.

PTSD – What it is and how to Manage it

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