If you find yourself waking up in the middle of the night with night terrors, worrying about being able to cope when socializing or struggling with anxiety, you may have post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety disorders or depression. Each of these conditions could develop following a serious traumatic event in your life.

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) causes the natural feeling of fear to extend long past the time when it’s needed. The fight-or-flight response continues despite your no longer being in danger.

This condition can be persistent, but there is good news for those who live with it. It’s treatable, and it is possible to get back to a normal way of life.

What are some symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder?

Post-traumatic stress disorder may present in a number of ways depending on the person it affects. Some people struggle with nightmares or night terrors. Others develop anxiety in social situations. Here are a few possible signs and symptoms to look out for:

  • Relapsing anxiety attacks
  • Avoidance symptoms (avoiding seeing friends, driving or other activities to prevent anxiety)
  • Bad dreams
  • Frightening thoughts
  • Flashbacks
  • Mood symptoms
  • Cognition symptoms
  • Reactive symptoms

What are reactive symptoms?

Although someone may appear to be getting better, changes in mood and reactions are common. Reactive symptoms include being tense or on edge, getting startled easily, lashing out in anger and having trouble sleeping.

Mood symptoms go on to include feelings of blame or guilt, negative thoughts, memory loss about the traumatic event and a loss of interest in the activities you once loved.

How long does it take to develop post-traumatic stress disorder?

Post-traumatic stress disorder can develop in as few as a couple days, but most people are not diagnosed for weeks or months following the incident. It may take that time for the PTSD symptoms to emerge. Initially, the traumatic incident is likely to cause similar symptoms, but these tend to dissipate in those who do not develop PTSD.

What should you do if you develop PTSD?

If you develop PTSD symptoms, you need to go to the doctor to have a diagnosis made. It is important to receive therapy and potentially medications for treatment, so you can get back to your normal life as soon as possible. With some time and perseverance, it’s possible to overcome the challenges that post-traumatic stress disorder can cause in your life.