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Symptoms & Signs of Emotional Trauma

Traumatic events are, by nature, emotionally overwhelming. Half of all people will experience a traumatic event in their lifetime. Traumatic events can include being exposed to death, serious injury or sexual violence. A trauma may be a one-time event or experienced over a long period of time, like child abuse.

When an individual experiences a traumatic event, they may have trouble coping with life as usual for several weeks of months. This short-term distress is quite common.

However, some individuals will develop long-lasting (chronic) symptoms of distress following a trauma: posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or another trauma-related condition. Approximately 7 to 8 percent of people will experience PTSD after a traumatic event.


Signs and symptoms of PTSD

Posttraumatic stress disorder symptoms can seriously disrupt one’s work, home life and relationships.

The primary symptoms of PTSD include the following:

  • Reliving or re-experiencing the traumatic event
  • Avoiding situations that are reminiscent of the traumatic event
  • Feeling negative about one’s self
  • Feeling highly aroused or keyed up


The symptoms of PTSD may begin a short time after the trauma occurs or take years to develop. Posttraumatic stress disorder symptoms may also come and go over time.

People with severe mental illnesses like PTSD face an increased risk of having chronic medical issues. Those with severe mental illness die, on average, 25 years earlier than others — often due to health complications that are treatable.

Other symptoms associated with PTSD include:


Feeling anxious or unsettled

Having nightmares or flashbacks

Feeling shame or guilt

Losing interest in hobbies or activities one used to enjoy

Feeling irritable or angry

Struggling in relationships

Having trouble sleeping

Feeling easily startled

Children and adolescents may be more likely to:

Display “oppositional” behavior

Abuse drugs or alcohol

Practice self-harm

Act out sexually

Overly focus on video games or online activities

Dissociate, feel numb or unreal

It’s never too late to get help following a trauma

A trauma-related disorder can affect anyone. It is not a weakness or something to be ashamed of.

At Pathlight Behavioral Health Centers, we provide comprehensive medical, psychiatric, and psychotherapeutic treatment for trauma-related disorders and PTSD — helping patients achieve a full and lasting recovery.

If you, or someone you care about, are struggling to recover following a trauma, please call us at (877) 711-1878. We offer free, confidential consultations with Master’s-level clinicians.