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How do I know if I Have PTSD?

By Jean Houlihan, MD

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) occurs when a person’s “flight-or-fight” response is damaged. When someone has PTSD they may feel frightened or stressed when they are not in danger. PTSD may develop after being the victim of physical harm, witnessing physical harm or knowing a loved one who suffered physical harm. In order to be diagnosed a person must have one re-experiencing symptom, at least three avoidance symptoms and at least two hyperarousal symptoms. These symptoms are listed below.

Re-experiencing Symptoms

  • Flashbacks- reliving the traumatic event over and over
  • Bad dreams
  • Frightening thoughts

 Avoidance Symptoms

  • Steering clear of places, objects or events that remind a person of their trauma
  • Feeling emotionally numb
  • Strong feelings of guilt, depression or worry
  • Loss of interest in activities that used to be enjoyable
  • Having trouble recalling the trauma

Hyperarousal Symptoms

  • Being easily startled
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Having angry outbursts
  • Feeling tense or “on edge”

Contact your primary care physician if you are experiencing any of these symptoms.

Topics and Subtopics: Mental Health

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