A woman looks out of her window during sunset with melancholiaPost-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental health condition that can develop after experiencing or witnessing a traumatic event. It is estimated that around six percent of the population will experience PTSD at some point in their lives. While many people associate PTSD with military combat, it can also be caused by a variety of other traumatic events such as sexual assault, natural disasters or serious accidents.

PTSD can have a significant impact on a person’s daily life, relationships and overall well-being. In this article, we will explore the 17 symptoms of PTSD and how to help someone who may be struggling with this condition.

What Is PTSD?

PTSD is a psychiatric disorder that can develop after experiencing or witnessing a traumatic event. It is characterized by a range of symptoms that can significantly impact a person’s daily life. These symptoms can be grouped into four main categories: intrusion, avoidance, negative alterations in cognition and mood and alterations in arousal and reactivity.

What Are The 17 Symptoms of PTSD?

According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), there are 17 symptoms of PTSD. In order to be diagnosed with PTSD, a person must experience at least one symptom from each of the four categories.

Intrusion symptoms

  1. Recurrent, involuntary and intrusive distressing memories of the traumatic event.
  2. Recurrent distressing dreams related to the traumatic event.
  3. Flashbacks or reliving the traumatic event.
  4. Intense or prolonged psychological distress when exposed to cues that resemble the traumatic event.

Avoidance symptoms

  1. Avoiding or efforts to avoid distressing memories, thoughts or feelings related to the traumatic event.
  2. Avoiding or efforts to avoid external reminders that may trigger memories of the traumatic event.
  3. Loss of interest or participation in significant activities.
  4. Feeling detached or estranged from others.

Negative alterations in cognition and mood symptoms

  1. Inability to remember important aspects of the traumatic event.
  2. Persistent and exaggerated negative beliefs or expectations about oneself, others or the world.
  3. Persistent distorted thoughts about the cause or consequences of the traumatic event.
  4. Persistent negative emotional state.
  5. Loss of interest or participation in significant activities.
  6. Feeling emotionally numb or detached from others.

Alterations in Arousal and Reactivity Symptoms

  1. Irritable behavior and angry outbursts.
  2. Reckless or self-destructive behavior.
  3. Hypervigilance or exaggerated startle response.

How to Help Someone with PTSD

If you know someone who is struggling with PTSD, there are several ways you can support them. Here are a few tips for helping someone with PTSD:

Educate yourself

The first step in helping someone with PTSD is to educate yourself about the condition. Learn about the symptoms, causes and treatment options. This will help you better understand what your loved one is going through and how you can support them.

Be a good listener

One of the most important things you can do for someone with PTSD is to be a good listener. Allow them to talk about their experiences and feelings without judgment. Let them know that you are there for them and that you care about their well-being.

Encourage them to seek professional help

PTSD is a complex condition that often requires professional treatment. Encourage your loved one to seek help from a mental health professional. Offer to help them find a therapist or accompany them to their appointments.

Be patient and understanding

Recovery from PTSD takes time and patience. Be understanding of your loved one’s struggles and be patient with their progress. Avoid pressuring them to “get over it” or “move on.” Instead, offer your support and understanding.

How Is PTSD Diagnosed?

In order to be diagnosed with PTSD, a person must meet the criteria outlined in the DSM-5. This includes experiencing at least one symptom from each of the four categories mentioned above. A mental health professional will conduct a thorough evaluation to determine if a person meets the criteria for PTSD.

How Long Does PTSD Last?

The duration of PTSD can vary from person to person. Some people may experience symptoms for a few months, while others may struggle with symptoms for years. Without treatment, PTSD symptoms can persist for a lifetime. However, with proper treatment, many people are able to manage their symptoms and live fulfilling lives.

Types of PTSD

There are several types of PTSD that a person may experience. These include:

  • Acute Stress Disorder: This is a short-term form of PTSD that occurs within one month of a traumatic event.
  • Chronic PTSD: This is when symptoms of PTSD last for more than three months.
  • Delayed-Onset PTSD: This is when symptoms of PTSD do not appear until at least six months after the traumatic event.
  • Complex PTSD: This is a type of PTSD that occurs after prolonged or repeated trauma, such as childhood abuse or domestic violence.

Treatment for PTSD

There are several treatment options available for PTSD, including therapy, medication, and self-help strategies. The most effective treatment for PTSD is a combination of therapy and medication.


Therapy can help a person with PTSD learn coping skills and strategies to manage their symptoms. Some types of therapy that may be helpful for PTSD include:

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): This type of therapy focuses on changing negative thoughts and behaviors.
  • Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR): This therapy uses eye movements to help a person process traumatic memories.
  • Exposure Therapy: This involves gradually exposing a person to their traumatic memories in a safe and controlled environment.


Medication can be helpful in managing symptoms of PTSD, such as depression, anxiety and sleep disturbances. Some common medications used to treat PTSD include antidepressants, anti-anxiety medications and prazosin (to help with nightmares).

Self-help strategies

There are also several self-help strategies that can be helpful for managing symptoms of PTSD. These include:

  • Exercise: Regular physical activity can help reduce symptoms of PTSD.
  • Mindfulness: Practicing mindfulness techniques, such as deep breathing or meditation, can help reduce stress and anxiety.
  • Support Groups: Joining a support group can provide a sense of community and understanding for those struggling with PTSD.

Manage PTSD Symptoms

PTSD is a complex mental health condition that can have a significant impact on a person’s life. It is important to recognize the symptoms of PTSD and seek help if you or someone you know is struggling. With proper PTSD treatment and support, it is possible to manage symptoms and live a fulfilling life. Remember to be patient, understanding and supportive of those who are struggling with PTSD.

Located in Bloomington, Indiana, Bloomington Meadows Hospital provides inpatient and outpatient mental health care for adults, adolescents and children that is trauma-informed and understanding of the effects of PTSD. Call us today at 833-902-2410 to talk to the admissions team and find out what services we have available to help you. 

In case of a mental health crisis, CALL 988 or seek the nearest emergency room.

For physical health emergencies, CALL 911 or seek the nearest emergency room.

About Bloomington Meadows Hospital

Bloomington Meadows Hospital specializes in providing each patient with a comprehensive behavioral and mental health counseling programs from a compassionate and caring staff. We pride ourselves on being dedicated to helping patients restore their health and obtain a fresh start.

We under that every person is unique, so all of our treatment plans and mental health counseling programs are individually designed to meet specific needs. Some of our services include our adults and children & adolescents programs, as well as our intensive outpatient programs.

We’re committed to the wellness of our patients, their families and the communities we serve. To schedule a no-cost assessment or for more information, please call 1-833-972-3358.