Veterans Affairs definition:
What are the symptoms of PTSD?
There are four types of PTSD symptoms:
1. Reliving the event (also called re-experiencing symptoms)
Memories of the traumatic event can come back at any time. You may feel the same fear and horror you did when the event took place. For example:
You may have nightmares.
You may feel like you are going through the event again. This is called a flashback.
You may see, hear, or smell something that causes you to relive the event. This is called a trigger. News reports, seeing an accident, or hearing a car backfire are examples of triggers.
2. Avoiding situations that remind you of the event
You may try to avoid situations or people that trigger memories of the traumatic event. You may even avoid talking or thinking about the event. For example:
You may avoid crowds, because they feel dangerous.
You may avoid driving if you were in a car accident or if your military convoy was bombed.
If you were in an earthquake, you may avoid watching movies about earthquakes.
You may keep very busy or avoid seeking help because it keeps you from having to think or talk about the event.
3. Negative changes in beliefs and feelings
The way you think about yourself and others changes because of the trauma. This symptom has many aspects, including the following:
You may not have positive or loving feelings toward other people and may stay away from relationships.
You may forget about parts of the traumatic event or not be able to talk about them.
You may think the world is completely dangerous, and no one can be trusted.
4. Feeling keyed up (also called hyperarousal)
You may be jittery, or always alert and on the lookout for danger. You might suddenly become angry or irritable. This is known as hyperarousal. For example:
You may have a hard time sleeping.
You may have trouble concentrating.
You may be startled by a loud noise or surprise.
You might want to have your back to a wall in a restaurant or waiting room.
PTSD symptoms usually start soon after the traumatic event. But for some people, they may not happen until months or years after the trauma. Symptoms may come and go over many years. So, you should keep track of your symptoms and talk to someone you trust about them.
Complex PTSD differs in the duration of abuse. Most complex PTSD or a big chunk is from childhood abuse.
Complex post-traumatic stress disorder (C-PTSD) is a psychological injury that results from protracted exposure to prolonged social and/or interpersonal trauma with lack or loss of control, disempowerment, and in the context of either captivity or entrapment, i.e. the lack of a viable escape route for the victim. C-PTSD is distinct from, but similar to, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Difficulties regulating emotions, including symptoms such as persistent sadness, suicidal thoughts, explosive anger, or covert anger.
Variations in consciousness, such as forgetting traumatic events (i.e., psychogenic amnesia), reliving traumatic events, or having episodes of dissociation (during which one feels detached from one’s mental processes or body).
Changes in self-perception, such as a chronic and pervasive sense of helplessness, shame, guilt, stigma, and a sense of being completely different from other human beings.
Varied changes in the perception of the perpetrator, such as attributing total power to the perpetrator or becoming preoccupied with the relationship to the perpetrator, including a preoccupation with revenge.
Alterations in relations with others, including isolation, distrust, or a repeated search for a rescuer.
Loss of, or changes in, one’s system of meanings, which may include a loss of sustaining faith or a sense of hopelessness and despair.
The most informative book on Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is Trauma and Recovery: The Aftermath of Violence–from Domestic Abuse to Political Terror by Judith Herman.