Learn More About The Symptoms, Signs, & Effects of PTSD & Trauma

At Life Healing Center, located in Santa Fe, New Mexico, we provide individualized care for adults who are struggling with the effects of trauma. PTSD can cause a person to feel intense negative emotions such as fear, worry, and sadness, impairing their ability to live a healthy and satisfying life. Fortunately, PTSD is a treatable condition, and there is support available for those in need. If your experience with a traumatic event is causing unsettling feelings, please reach out today to schedule a no-cost assessment with our team of experts. We’ll help you access therapies and services that address your unique needs so that you can live a life free of the emotional distress of PTSD.  

Signs & Symptoms of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder

Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental health disorder that can develop as a result of living through, witnessing, or learning about the details of a harrowing event. While most people who endure or hear about a traumatic event eventually learn to cope with disruptive symptoms, others may struggle with the effects of trauma long after the event has occurred.  

The signs and symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder can vary from one person to another, and onset can occur at any time. For some, PTSD symptoms can begin immediately following a traumatic event, whereas for others, they may develop gradually over time.  

Common posttraumatic stress disorder symptoms typically fall into four major categories: avoidance, reexperiencing, mood and cognition, and alertness.  

Avoidance symptoms:  

  • Inability to express affection 
  • Staying away from people, events, or situations that remind you of the traumatic event 
  • Feeling like you have to remain busy 
  • Engaging in self-destructive, reckless, or risky behaviors  
  • Acts of violence, such as property destruction and physical altercations 
  • Derealization or depersonalization 
  • Misusing drugs or alcohol to avoid memories 
  • Verbal aggression 

Reexperiencing symptoms:  

  • Physical signs of stress, like sweating or nausea 
  • Distressful or intrusive thoughts 
  • Nightmares 
  • Recurring memories or vivid flashbacks of the traumatic event 

Mood and cognition symptoms:  

  • Self-blame 
  • Social withdrawal 
  • Difficulty feeling happiness or joy 
  • Persistent feelings of fear, anger, or shame 
  • Trouble recalling key elements of the traumatic event 
  • Loss of interest in activities once enjoyed  

Alertness symptoms:  

  • Being easily startled 
  • Trouble falling asleep or staying asleep 
  • Feeling tense or on edge 
  • Difficulty focusing on simple tasks 
  • Engaging in aggressive behavior 
  • Irritability 
  • Being easily angered or upset 
  • Hypervigilance  

It’s not uncommon for someone to show signs of trauma after experiencing a life-threatening or shocking event. But if symptoms last longer than a month and cause serious disruption in a person’s daily life, they may meet the criteria for PTSD. For the person to receive a diagnosis, signs of posttraumatic stress disorder must also be unrelated to substance use, other illnesses, and medication.  

Please contact our team today if you are exhibiting any of the warning signs or symptoms of trauma. Early intervention can help prevent the worsening of PTSD symptoms and reduce the long-term negative effects of trauma.  

Common Causes of & Risk Factors for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder

A person can develop posttraumatic stress disorder after enduring trauma, such as a serious physical injury, childhood abuse, or the death of a loved one. However, a traumatic event doesn’t have to happen to someone directly for them to be negatively impacted by it. Causes of PTSD may also include witnessing a traumatic event or hearing about a traumatic experience that happened to a family member or close friend.  

Certain events can be causes of posttraumatic stress disorder, including: 

  • Life-threatening illnesses 
  • Serious injuries 
  • Being kidnapped 
  • Being held hostage 
  • Exposure to war 
  • Terrorist attacks 
  • Sexual assault 
  • Physical violence 
  • Extreme natural disasters, such as tornadoes, hurricanes, and earthquakes 
  • House fires 
  • Severe car or large-scale transportation accidents 

While posttraumatic stress disorder can affect people of all ages, ethnicities, and cultures, there are risk factors that may make a person more likely to develop PTSD. These risk factors include having a family history of mental illness, being female, misusing drugs or alcohol, and suffering from a co-occurring mental health disorder. Having a front-line profession as a first responder, firefighter, police officer, healthcare worker, or military member can also increase a person’s chances of developing PTSD due to repeated exposure to trauma on the job. 

Effects of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder

The longer a person waits to seek professional intervention for PTSD, the more harm the mental health disorder can cause. Untreated PTSD can lead to numerous negative short- and long-term effects, so seeking care early is essential.  

Potential effects of trauma and PTSD include: 

  • Difficulty maintaining employment 
  • Social withdrawal 
  • Strained relationships with loved ones 
  • Impaired memory 
  • Violent behavior 
  • Low self-esteem or negative self-image 
  • Suicidal ideation 
  • Suicide attempts 

A person who suffers from posttraumatic stress disorder is also more likely to develop a co-occurring disorder such as anxiety or depression. In certain instances, PTSD may cause someone to turn to drugs or alcohol to cope with stressors, which can lead to a substance use disorder. However, with prompt care, you can begin to process traumatic experiences, reduce your risk for negative consequences of PTSD, and drastically improve your overall functioning.  

At Life Healing Center, we provide comprehensive services that can help our clients learn to effectively cope with symptoms that are hindering their ability to thrive in their daily lives. Don’t let symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder interfere with your happiness any longer. Our team is ready to help you heal from the challenging effects of PTSD and live the productive life you deserve. 

What Happens if Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Symptoms Return?

The Life Healing Center staff strives to help each person in our care avoid relapse by teaching them valuable skills for coping with triggers of PTSD and helping them establish a strong network of support. Because our highly skilled staff has extensive experience working with clients who have PTSD, we can provide focused care to help you overcome obstacles and make sustained progress toward healing.  

We understand that each person’s healing journey is different and that, sometimes, people experience setbacks. Please know that if you once again begin to have symptoms of trauma or posttraumatic stress disorder, this does not mean that you have somehow failed. In fact, by seeking help, you are proving how resilient you are. We are dedicated to helping each of our clients better understand their PTSD diagnosis and providing them with support should their symptoms return. 

We also place great emphasis on the importance of an individualized aftercare plan for each person so that they have the resources and support they need for their next phase of healing. We’ll work to empower you to advocate on your own behalf and reach out for help if you need it. 

Relapse symptoms of PTSD can be different for everyone. We encourage you to familiarize yourself with the signs and symptoms of PTSD so that you can identify when you or a loved one is struggling. If you determine that you or someone you love can benefit from professional support, we encourage you to seek help immediately.  

Common Underlying or Co-Occurring Disorders

People who have PTSD or struggle with the effects of trauma may be at increased risk for certain co-occurring mental health disorders. For this reason, it’s important to be strategic when selecting where you receive care. You’ll want to consider providers who conduct an in-depth assessment so that you can receive an accurate diagnosis and a personalized care plan that addresses all the symptoms that are impacting your life. 

At Life Healing Center, our team is prepared to provide superior care for all concerns a client is dealing with. By focusing on the whole person, we can help our clients get on a path to improved health and lasting healing. 

Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Statistics

The National Center for PTSD reports the following PTSD statistics about the prevalence of the mental illness among the U.S. adult population: 

  • Roughly 8 out of every 100 women and 4 out of every 100 men will have PTSD at some point in their lives. 
  • In 2020, an estimated 13 million Americans suffered from PTSD. 

The following PTSD statistics are provided by the American Psychiatric Association:  

  • An estimated 3.5% of U.S. adults struggle with PTSD each year. 
  • Women are twice as likely as men to develop PTSD.  
  • PTSD affects U.S. African Americans, Latinos, and Native Americans at higher rates than white and non-Latino Americans.
  • For adolescents ages 13-18, the lifetime prevalence of PTSD is 8%.  
  • Approximately 1 in 11 people will develop PTSD in their lifetime.  

This content was written on behalf of and reviewed by the clinical staff at Life Healing Center.

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Living through each day was a nightmare because of my worsening PTSD symptoms. However, the staff at Life Healing Center was able to help me through therapy. I am now slowly looking forward to each day with their help.

– Jason C.
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