Four Categories of PTSD Symptoms

Do you know the Categories of PTSD Symptoms

There are four categories of PTSD symptoms. Did you even know there were categories? Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is an anxiety disorder that can result from exposure to trauma. PTSD involves four main types of symptoms:

  • Hyper-Arousal
  • Intrusive Recollection
  • Avoidance
  • Numbing

PTSD is diagnosed when these symptoms last longer than a month and cause significant distress or impairment in functioning.


Hyper-arousal is an unpleasant sensation where the person feels hyper-aware of every stimuli. They are aware of every tiny sound. The person is hyper-vigilant, startles easily, and often feels irritable and angry. It is difficult to concentrate. Hyper-arousal symptoms are a crescendo from mild anxiety all the way up to a full-fledged fight or flight reaction, or a panic attack that sends someone to the emergency room.

This includes sleep problems, anger/irritability, concentration problems, always feeling on edge or on guard, jumpiness, and being easily startled.  Increased arousal could also include physical symptoms, such as pounding heartbeat, sweating, dizziness, and rapid breathing. These symptoms keep you stressed and eventually exhausted.

Intrusive Recollection

Intrusive recollection means unpleasant thoughts related to the trauma. Sometimes there are nightmares or recurring bad dreams. Flashbacks are a serious form of intrusive thoughts that make a person feel as if they are right back in the middle of the trauma once again.

Re-experiencing (repeatedly reliving) the trauma can be in the form of nightmares, intrusive memories or images, flashbacks, or intense emotional or physical reactions to reminder of the trauma. These symptoms frequently leave you feeling like you are going crazy.


The person avoids situations, thoughts, and feelings that remind them of the trauma. This can make a person’s world much smaller as they work to avoid all traumatic cues. A great deal of energy is used trying not to think about it. Emotional affect is flattened. There may be a sense that the future is fore-shortened.

Avoidance of trauma reminders may include trying not to think or talk about the trauma, or trying not to have feelings about it. It may also include staying away from activities, people, places, and situations that bring up trauma memories. These symptoms leave you feeling apart from the people and surroundings in your life.


Emotional numbing includes losing interest in activities that used to be important to you, feeling detached or estranged from important people in your life, feeling unable to have normal emotions, and losing a sense that you have a long-term future. These symptoms diminish your relationships with those closest to you.

These are the four

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