PTSD Global Community

Diagnosis. What are the symptoms of PTSD?

What are your symptoms and what signs do you or others see in you?

Are you aware you have symptoms of PTSD?

Do you see them in other people?

PTSD isnt easy to spot for other people, even medical professionals struggle sometimes.

Although there are some lists of recognsied symptoms which I will post below, not everyone can recognise a reaction to a past event (or several events), or the symptoms of a reaction.

The medical tests seem not to be well known by medical staff? Some say there are no recognised tests.

What are the tests?

I would like people to help out and say what symptoms they have or are aware of? and do the formal lists of recognised symptoms bear any relation to peoples personal experiences? Do we share any common symptoms amongst a broad range of types of event and range of reactions?

I have found so much ignorance on this subject and there seems to be either very little framework for diagnosis or none at all.

Here are some of the recognised symptoms. But only a few seem relevent to me personally.

From "Mind" Symptoms of PTSD

"Reliving aspects of the trauma

vivid flashbacks (feeling that the trauma is happening all over again)

intrusive thoughts and images


intense distress at real or symbolic reminders of the trauma.

Avoiding memories

keeping busy

avoiding situations that remind you of the trauma

repressing memories (being unable to remember aspects of the event)

feeling detached, cut off and emotionally numb

being unable to express affection

feeling there’s no point in planning for the future.

Being easily upset or angry

disturbed sleep

irritability and aggressive behaviour

lack of concentration

extreme alertness

panic response to anything to do with the trauma

being easily startled."

From NHS Choices:

"Signs and symptoms

Someone with PTSD will often relive 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.

These symptoms are often severe and persistent enough to have a significant impact on the person’s day-to-day life.

Read more about the symptoms of PTSD."

"The symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can have a significant impact on your day-to-day life.

In most cases, the symptoms develop during the first month after a traumatic event. However, in a minority of cases, there may be a delay of months or even years before symptoms start to appear.

Some people with PTSD experience long periods when their symptoms are less noticeable, followed by periods where they worsen. Other people have severe symptoms that are constant.

The specific symptoms of PTSD can vary widely between individuals, but they generally fall into the categories described below.


Re-experiencing is the most typical symptom of PTSD. This is when a person involuntarily and vividly re-lives the traumatic event in the form of flashbacks, nightmares or repetitive and distressing images or sensations. This can even include physical sensations such as pain, sweating and trembling.

Some people will have constant negative thoughts about their experience, repeatedly asking themselves questions that prevent them from coming to terms with the event. For example, they may wonder why the event happened to them and if they could have done anything to stop it, which can lead to feelings of guilt or shame.

Avoidance and emotional numbing

Trying to avoid being reminded of the traumatic event is another key symptom of PTSD. This usually means avoiding certain people or places that remind you of the trauma, or avoiding talking to anyone about your experience.

Many people with PTSD will try to push memories of the event out of their mind, often distracting themselves with work or hobbies.

Some people attempt to deal with their feelings by trying not to feel anything at all. This is known as emotional numbing. This can lead to the person becoming isolated and withdrawn, and they may also give up pursuing the activities that they used to enjoy.

Hyperarousal (feeling 'on edge')

Someone with PTSD may be very anxious and find it difficult to relax. They may be constantly aware of threats and easily startled. This state of mind is known as hyperarousal.

Hyperarousal often leads to irritability, angry outbursts, sleeping problems (insomnia) and difficulty concentrating.

Other problems

Many people with PTSD also have a number of other problems, including:

depression, anxiety and phobias

drug misuse or alcohol misuse

headaches, dizziness, chest pains and stomach aches

PTSD sometimes leads to work-related problems and the breakdown of relationships.

PTSD in children

PTSD can affect children as well as adults. Children with the condition can have similar symptoms to adults, such as having trouble sleeping and upsetting nightmares.

Like adults, children with PTSD may also lose interest in activities that they used to enjoy and they may have physical symptoms such as headaches and stomach aches.

However, there are some symptoms that are more specific to children with PTSD, such as:


being unusually anxious about being separated from a parent or other adult

re-enacting the traumatic event(s) through their play"

20 Replies

ok a lot of these I have and have had for nearly 8 years now I try to put on a brave face but what you see is not what is going on inside me I try to hide these events but I keep thinking about the trauma I had and continue to have , so where do I go from here? I have been to the doctors and told them how I am but cannot say I think I have PTSD because I will be in the wrong , even though I have been right every time in the past with other things?


It is not for your GP to say you may have PTSD! He MUST refer you to see a councillor. Ask youo GP to refer you. Good luck. x


thank you for the advise


It is always difficult for others, including GPs, to spot the signs of PTSD in someone. Although we are in such a bad place, we are very good at hiding it. We retire into ourselves and cope as best we can. Any of the symptoms noted here can be present but in themselves are not conclusive diagnostic conditions. You might appear as a grumpy old *!*+8 Who seems to want to be on their own - or an introspective person who, when he isn't sleeping, is always on about how ill he feels. Only you know what's going on - not why - but it's there and is scary and won't go away. Generally, people don't want to know about your ills or problems and are only too happy to "hope you feel better soon" and get on their way! Doctors, however, need to know. That's their job. You need to tell them, in detail, what is going on with you. I've been there and know it can just sound like a hypochondriac spilling all his problems. I've had a GP become really ratty and dismissive, clearly wanting me make way for the next patient! But it's important. It's about you. You need to push for some counselling help in the first instance. It is the start of a recuperative process and a way out of this hard place.

Spartan300, it isn't for you to tell your doctor what you have - you know full well what you have and it is up to the doc to recognise it. Tell him that you really do need to talk to someone - that you don't want to waste his time but need specialist therapy. If you feel like crying at the time, cry away - it can help. You may get a six session course, which isn't nearly enough - but it will be a starter.

Try again with your doctor and I wish you luck and hope for the beginning of a recovery.



I am going to have a word with headway on Friday thank you for the advise


It's incredibly easy to not ask for help for many different reasons.

Self pride and reluctance to address emotive issues. The concern that you will not be taken seriously or told to just get over it. Thinking youre dealing with it and getting on with things, when I'm reality you're not dealing with it, you're letting it continue.

It's what we all do with trauma, we try to move on and deal with it. But PTSD I think is about a backlog of emotive issues your mind cannot process. It's a kind of mental constipation?

Then when PTSD is combined with a brain injury, this compounds the issues and makes the emotional situation more complex.

You do feel isolated and that diagnosis and support will not be forthcoming. GP's can be quite ill informed about PTSD and also psyche medical assessors too.

The amount of ignorance towards an established debilitating medical problem is unexpected.


That's a very sound idea.

Let us know how you get on please?

We need some help now and then to push things in the right direction :-)


Hi Dadog1,

You got there in the end, that's encouraging for all of us.

From what you describe, do you think there is a general lack of awareness of PTSD at the GP interface with the NHS?

Some people seem to think PTSD is a mental illness that some military personnel have on return from active duty and that ordinary members of the public can't suffer from?

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Some GPs don't believe in delayed onset CPTSD or think you get over it "by talking to people" then refuse to refer you.


almost all of them. i didn't know that it is PTSD. i was diagnosed with depression and my counsellor mentioned that it might be PTSD. last week saw psychiatrist for the first time and got aproved it is PTSD.


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I am very pleased to hear you recieved a diagnosis of your PTSD. Result!

It is too convenient for medical assessors to write this off as depression or anxiety, rather than trauma

Emotional trauma can easily be as damaging and debilitating as a physical brain trauma injury.

I was first diagnosed by a private medical assessor as having chronic PTSD and anger problems due to my RTA and yet the NHS failed to do so. A psychopathic forensic psychiatrist at an nhs unit was paid by the insurance company to deny I had PTSD without conducting any tests. A guy who was a very bad man. My lawyer and barrister were very surprised when my partner and I obtained a slimey retraction of his wrong assessment. He made my skin crawl

Based on his initial lies the insurance company refused me rehab and support for PTSD which resulted in the breakdown of my marriage.

My PTSD and anger meant I felt I was not safe around anyone but especially my wife and children. So I left them and became homeless without any support or GP access for pain meds or treatment.

But here I am still slugging away at the system.

I can't win every time, but I don't lose easily.

Btw, PTSD is like depression in the way people think or say you should just get over it. But you first need acknowledgement of serious trauma before support can be arranged.


Thanks for sharing and good on you for 'never giving up, never surrendering'. I've had assessors deny ive PTSD because im also autistic.

What i need for xmas the most is.......recognition by the NHS that they let me down and a CPTSD diagnosis along with an apology for the way ive been treated these past 18 years and a guarantee i can stay in therapy until my CPTSD has gone completely.


Some personal symptoms I would like to mention which others might share or wish to add to?

An overwhelming sense of loss for the life I had before. Loss of my marriage, loss of being there every day while my children grew up, loss of my home, loss of my business and future earning potential, losses of my health, strength and mobility, loss of my independence, loss of friends and colleagues, loss of access to normal life or even remotely normal life. It's about sadness for the loss of everything I had that I hold dear to me.

I almost died twice on that terrible day. The NDE was particularly challenging to deal with at the time and afterwards. Life still feels very thin and that I'm filling in time waiting for the inevitable time move on.

I have a much heightened level of spiritual feelings and understanding.

Another strong symptom I suffer with is an overactive self defense mechanism. In so much that if I feel threatened or if I feel my partner is being threatened I have an automatic reaction which I have very little control over. I can go 0 to ballistic much faster than a Hayabusa. I am joking about a distressing problem for me and other people. It feels as if my self defence mechanism is in trauma mode and will not calm down. 13 years since the accident.


i am also very sensitive to any loss in my life, even taking on childrens' losses as mine where i really shoudn't. and also have strong that threat/defence feeling.

i have no long history of treating my PTSD. i'm in my mid40's, lived my life feeling weird, thought that i'm one unlucky person (abuse in childhood and later in life), thought that i just do make wrong choices.... until last year had two breakdowns and diagnosis of depression and now (after almost a year) i'm very much looking forward to EMDR to which i've been refered to.


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I've not heard of EMDR?

Share some similarities with you.

When I was 5 I started having some very nasty out of this world experiences, that was mid 1960s. The have a medical tag now "night terrors".

I know it as something else, more a case of spiritual abuse.

Equally damaging and it had a major effect on my early years.

I lived with an overbearing sense of fear until my early 30's.

But then something inside of me changed and I stopped feeling fear. Getting older? Wiser? But either way I lost the fear.


i don't really know did i have "night terrors" but nighmares are part of my life. i used to work a lot and keep myself busy that for the time going to bed i would just knock out. now knowing that i have mental disorder i try to avoid stress as much as i can which has good impact on my sleep.

i still live in fear. it is less than used to be but still is there. i guess that antidepresants help and possibly age and lifestyle.

about EMDR (eye movement desensitization and reprocessing) for very first time i read in book "Healing Without Freud or Prozac" by Dr.David Servan-Schreibe. it is very interesting :) he explains how the brain works and alternative mental disorders healing methods. and he speaks from his own medical and personal experiences which i love. this is his website

best wishes!



Great link thanks!

I've bookmarked it.

Self help is good.

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Very much the same here I try to avoid stress and live in a peaceful harmonious environment at home.

I rarely go out of the home although I love our garden.

That's interesting about EMDR, I'll have a look at that.

I spent about ten years on prozac and it helped me to reach a plateau above trouble if you like.

I stopped taking prozac when I became homeless in 2003 because I had no GP access and I just don't need it now.

I'm just happy being away from crowds and chaos out there.

It's been great to attend Headway and I love it, but it's an emotional challenge too. I need that challenge to stay part of mainstream society for my own sake.

I know I am safe at Headway. I don't feel safe out there anymore.

Places we go to are nature reserves and country parks away from people. I am at my happiest with nature.

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My symptoms on the Lancashire trauma scale were 9/10 the only symptom i didn't have was nightmares (counseller fixed them 2 years ago). However these symptoms have been with me on and off since 1996!

In a few weeks time i may finally get a diagnosis after 18 years of fighting and waiting. However an EMDR therapist is treating me via my university because he agrees i have CPTSD. The EMDR is working but haven't had any for 2 weeks because he's been away. Having counselling from him on Wednesday over the phone with EMDR resuming next Monday.

Struggling with being unable to cry as im too scared and the worst anniversary at the moment......the date i stopped the abuse at home from happening.


CPTSD I assume means chronic ptsd?

The EMDR is effective from what I've read online.

I was offered one on one counselling which I did not find very constructive personally, but it is effective for many people.

How did the EMDR go? I would love to hear how you got on with it.

Can you fill us in please?