How long does PTSD last? The course of the illness will vary from person to person and event to event. Some people may experience PTSD recovery within six months, while others have PTSD symptoms that last much longer. PTSD can also become chronic.
PTSD symptoms usually appear soon after trauma. For most people, these symptoms go away on their own within the first few weeks and months after the trauma. For some, the symptoms can last for many years, especially if they go untreated. PTSD symptoms can stay at a fairly constant level of severity.
Flashbacks can last for just a few seconds, or continue for several hours or even days. You can read some tips on how to cope with flashbacks on our page on self-care for PTSD.
Recurrent, unwanted distressing memories of the traumatic event. Reliving the traumatic event as if it were happening again (flashbacks) Upsetting dreams or nightmares about the traumatic event. Severe emotional distress or physical reactions to something that reminds you of the traumatic event.
With PTSD, a trigger is something that brings on memories or reminders of a traumatic event. For example, flashbacks are often prompted by a trigger. The flashback causes you to feel as though you're reliving the traumatic experience (or some parts of it) all over again.
Get enough rest, eat a healthy diet, exercise and take time to relax. Try to reduce or avoid caffeine and nicotine, which can worsen anxiety. Don't self-medicate. Turning to alcohol or drugs to numb your feelings isn't healthy, even though it may be a tempting way to cope.
Someone with PTSD often relives the traumatic event through nightmares and flashbacks, and may experience feelings of isolation, irritability and guilt. They may also have problems sleeping, such as insomnia, and find concentrating difficult.
The Intermediate Recovery Stage
As the last of the four phases of post-traumatic stress disorder, the intermediate recovery phase of PTSD refers to the transition back to everyday life. Once the person has addressed their needs in relation to their safety, they can then shift their attention to other problems.
People with PTSD have intense, disturbing thoughts and feelings related to their experience that last long after the traumatic event has ended. They may relive the event through flashbacks or nightmares; they may feel sadness, fear or anger; and they may feel detached or estranged from other people.
Flashbacks sometimes feel as though they come out of nowhere, but there are often early physical or emotional warning signs. These signs could include a change in mood, feeling pressure in your chest, or suddenly sweating. Becoming aware of the early signs of flashbacks may help you manage or prevent them.
Re-experiencing is the most typical symptom of PTSD. This is when a person involuntarily and vividly relives the traumatic event in the form of: flashbacks. nightmares.
Feeling jittery, nervous or tense.
Women experiencing PTSD are more likely to exhibit the following symptoms: Become easily startled. Have more trouble feeling emotions, experience numbness. Avoid trauma reminders.
Dissociation-a common feature of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD)-involves disruptions in the usually integrated functions of consciousness, memory, identity, and perception of the self and the environment.
The brain responds by activating the amygdala as though real danger is imminent. This in turn causes an increase in heart rate, shallow breathing, perspiration, and panic as the fight or flight system kicks in.
Emotional Trauma Symptoms
Psychological Concerns: Anxiety and panic attacks, fear, anger, irritability, obsessions and compulsions, shock and disbelief, emotional numbing and detachment, depression, shame and guilt (especially if the person dealing with the trauma survived while others didn't)
Complex PTSD symptoms may include acting aggressively, impulsively, eating disorders and drug or alcohol abuse. They experience extreme emotional problems like intense anger, panic, and severe depression.
Symptoms of uncomplicated PTSD include: avoidance of trauma reminders, nightmares, flashbacks to the event, irritability, mood changes and changes in relationships. Uncomplicated PTSD can be treated through therapy, medication or a combination of both.
Presence of one (or more) of the following symptoms of intrusion associated with the traumatic event: Recurrent, intrusive distressing memories of the traumatic event. Recurrent distressing dreams about the event. Flashbacks in which the person feels or acts as if the traumatic event is recurring.
DON'T tell them to “Just get over it”.
The worst thing you can do for someone who has PTSD is tell them to “Just get over it.” PTSD is an ongoing disorder that requires therapy and often medication management to help heal.
How is PTSD diagnosed? The doctor will do a mental health assessment. This means they will ask about current symptoms, past history and family history. They may do a physical examination to check that there are no other reasons for the symptoms.