What Are Common Characteristics of People with PTSD?

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  • Written By: N. Madison
  • Edited By: A. Joseph
  • Last Modified Date: 05 November 2018
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People who have post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) typically share many of the same characteristics. They often have flashbacks and relive trauma in their dreams. Many of them have avoidance tendencies and exhibit signs of anxiety. People with PTSD also are more likely to experience hallucinations or blackouts and to use drugs or alcohol to deal with their troubling memories and current problems.

One of the primary characteristics of people with PTSD is that they often deal with unpleasant memories that they cannot control. A person who has this condition often has flashbacks of the experiences that caused the disorder. For example, if a person developed this condition because of the traumatic events of a war, he or she might have repeated flashbacks of battle. When a person who has this condition has flashbacks, the episodes can last for mere minutes, but some people relive the troubling events for days.

Repetitive and troubling dreams are also among the characteristics of PTSD. Anyone can have nightmares, but people who have this condition often seem to relive terrible events while they are asleep. The dreams might reoccur on a frequent basis and cause them to feel troubled even after they are over. In many cases, the dreams interfere with a person’s ability to feel truly rested after sleeping.


People with PTSD also might exhibit avoidance tendencies. A person who has this condition might avoid speaking about his or her emotions and might even avoid situations that cause him or her to experience strong feelings. In fact, the person might even try to avoid thinking of the events that led to this condition. The person's troubled mind might make it difficult for him or her to behave normally in relationships, and he or she might avoid doing things that previously gave him or her pleasure. A sense of hopeless might also develop in people with PTSD.

Many people with PTSD also exhibit signs of stress and anxiety. They often appear anxious and have difficulty dealing with everyday stresses. Often, people who have this disorder are given to emotional displays of anger or irritability. They might also have difficulty dealing with guilty feelings and putting them into perspective, and they might be easily startled.

Some people with PTSD develop symptoms that have even more of a dramatic effect on their lives. For example, a person who has this condition might experience hallucinations in relation to this condition, might have blackouts or might develop phobias. Other people with PTSD might try to numb themselves and avoid their feelings by drinking too much alcohol or taking drugs.


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