Full-blown post-traumatic stress disorder tends to begin within the first three months following the event. Sometimes, however, six months pass before an individual begins exhibiting symptoms. Half of those stricken with PTSD recover within three months. Those who can't shake the symptoms for over a year must receive treatment if they want to improve.
Those with clinical PTSD typically:
- have experienced an immediate response to a traumatic event
- reacted with extreme fear, horror and/or helplessness to the event
- continually re-live the event ("flashbacks) through dreams, hallucinations and images
- try to escape anything that would remind him or her of the event
- demonstrate some apparent memory loss about the event
- experience increased irritability, anger, difficulty sleeping or concentrating
- sense heightened awareness, over-react when startled, feel overwhelmed by impending doom or danger
- struggle at work and in relationships for one month or longer
A significant number of trauma survivors, however, cannot defeat these symptoms within a useful time period. If you experience these symptoms in addition to exacerbated symptoms from your mood disorder for longer than three months, it's imperative you discuss your situation with your healthcare providers.