An individual should have the following symptoms for at least month in order to be diagnosed with PTSD:
•Symptoms that make it difficult to do regular and normal routines such as going to work, being responsible for important obligations, and being with friends
•At least 1 re-experiencing symptom
•At least 3 avoidance symptoms
•At least 2 hyperarousal symptoms
The symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can be divided in three categories including re-experiencing symptoms, avoidance symptoms, and hyperarousal symptoms.
In re-experiencing symptoms, an individual may have frightening thoughts and bad dreams. One may also have flashbacks, which result to reliving the traumatic experience all over again. Flashbacks may include physical symptoms such as sweating or rapid heartbeats. Re-experiencing symptoms may affect an individual’s regular routine. These symptoms transpire from the thoughts and feelings of an individual. They can be triggered by objects, situations, or even words that remind an individual of the traumatic event.
Avoidance symptoms are usually a form of denial. They allow an individual to change a personal routine. Avoidance symptoms can include feeling depressed, worried, or guilty; having trouble in remembering the traumatic event; feeling emotionally numb; staying away from people, places, objects, or situations that remind the experience, and losing interest in activities that used to be enjoyable prior to the experience. For instance, an individual who got involved in a traumatic vehicular accident may no longer drive or ride a car to avoid being reminded of the experience.
Finally, hyperarousal symptoms usually make it difficult for an individual to do daily tasks such as eating, sleeping, or concentrating. These symptoms are constant, which means that an individual need not be reminded by the traumatic experience. An individual with hyperarousal symptoms are usually tensed, easily startled, or have angry outbursts. These symptoms can make an individual angry or feel stressed for no apparent reason.
Having some of these symptoms is natural after experiencing a dangerous or traumatic experience. Symptoms that fade away a few weeks after the experience are referred to as acute stress disorder (ASD). However, if the symptoms persist more than a few weeks, they may no longer be ASD. Symptoms that last for a longer period and become an ongoing problem may be considered PTSD. On the contrary’, some people with PTSD may not show any type of symptom for weeks or even months.