Recognizing PTSD Symptoms

Veterans who have experienced a traumatic event in-service may suffer from posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), but it isn’t always immediately diagnosed. Sometimes sufferers aren’t aware of their condition until others notice changes in mood and behavior.

This delay in diagnosis can create problems. Several sufferers have had multiple jobs only to lose them due to an inability to adapt to a work environment.

Addressing PTSD Symptoms

PTSD will not just go away. For the condition to improve, it must first be addressed. Therefore, it is important to recognize the symptoms and determine if you have any of them. According to Mayo Clinic, PTSD is commonly grouped into four different categories: 1) Intrusive memories, 2) avoidance, 3) negative changes in thinking and mood, and 4) changes in physical and emotional reactions.

Symptoms of intrusive memories may include:

  • Recurring, unwanted, and distressing memories of the traumatic event;
  • Flashbacks of the traumatic event;
  • Dreams or nightmares about the traumatic event; and
  • Severe emotional distress or physical reactions to something that reminds you of the traumatic event.

Symptoms of avoidance may include:

  • Trying to avoid thinking or talking about the traumatic event and
  • Avoiding places, activities or people that remind you of the traumatic event.

Symptoms of negative changes in thinking and mood may include:

  • Negative thoughts;
  • Hopelessness;
  • Memory problems, including being unable to remember important aspects of the traumatic event or having difficulties with short- and long-term memory;
  • Difficulty maintaining close relationships;
  • Isolation from family and friends;
  • No longer being interested in activities you once enjoyed;
  • Difficulty experiencing positive emotions, and
  • Feeling emotionally numb.

Symptoms of changes in physical and emotional reactions (also called arousal symptoms) may include:

  • Being easily startled or frightened;
  • Always being on guard for danger (hypervigilance);
  • Self-destructive behavior, such as drinking too much, driving too fast, or getting in fights;
  • Difficulty sleeping;
  • Difficulty concentrating;
  • Irritability or unprovoked anger (getting angry for no reason or for strange reasons); and
  • Feeling intense guilt or shame.

Veterans with “passive” suicidal ideation may think about death because of the mental anguish and suffering they endure, but they would never actually go through with it. Sometimes it’s because they have specific religious beliefs condemning the act, or they don’t want to put their family members through that situation. Some have had friends commit suicide, and they would never want to cause that kind of heartache to their loved ones.

Another symptom of PTSD is obsessional rituals that interfere with routine activities. This may manifest in Veterans when they check the locks on their doors several times a day to make sure they are secure. They may also look out the windows several times a day or avoid standing by the windows in their home. They may also walk the perimeter of their residence to ensure it is secure.

While this is not a complete list of all PTSD symptoms, it offers quite a few examples that may be able to help Veterans determine whether they have PTSD. Veterans who incur PTSD during military service are entitled to VA disability benefits, but they must apply for them first.

Veterans Serving Veterans

Berry Law Firm was founded by Vietnam War Veteran and legendary trial lawyer John Stevens Berry Sr. We are proud to have many military Veterans among our attorneys and staff who understand what it means to serve and know firsthand the struggles many of our clients face every day.

If you need to appeal a VA decision for PTSD, Berry Law Firm may be able to help. We have been successfully representing veterans for decades. Contact us today for a free evaluation.