Back to Blog

The 4 Categories of PTSD Symptoms

Jul 11, 2021

PTSD symptoms may begin within one month of a traumatic event, but sometimes the symptoms may not appear until years after the event. The symptoms can cause significant problems in social or work situations and in relationships of all sorts. Believe it or not, they can also interfere with the ability to carry out normal daily tasks.

PTSD symptoms are grouped into 4 categories. They can vary over time or vary from person to person. Here are the categories and the symptoms that fall under each category:

  1. Intrusive Memories: Upsetting dreams or nightmares about the event, reliving the event as if it was occurring again(flashbacks), and severe emotional distress or physical reactions to something that reminds you of the event.
  2. Avoidance: Trying to avoid thinking or even talking about the event, and avoiding places, activities, or people that remind you of the event.
  3. Negative changes in thinking & mood:. Hopelessness about the future, lack of interest in activities you once enjoyed, difficulty maintaining close relationships, negative thoughts about yourself, memory problems, including not remembering important aspects of the event, feeling detached from family & friends, and difficulty experiencing positive emotions.
  4. Changes in physical & emotional reactions:. Being easily frightened or startled, overwhelming guilt/shame, trouble sleeping, trouble concentrating, irritability/anger/aggressive behavior, and self-destructive behavior

For children 6 years old & younger, signs and symptoms may include:

  • Frightening dreams that may or may not include aspects of the event
  • Re-enacting the event or aspects of the event through play.