8 Common Symptoms Of PTSD That Can Affect Anyone

It doesn't just affect veterans.

mirror image of woman in ponytail window blinds shades getty

I was having terrible nightmares, the kind you wake up from hyperventilating and sweating. I’d smack my husband in the middle of the night to wake him, terrified of where I was and needing comfort. 

“What was your nightmare about?” He’d ask. More often than not, they involved my mother. I don’t have a wonderful relationship with her, but I never thought she was the root cause of my problems. I would dream about fighting with her, wrangling control of whatever the particular focus of the nightmare was. I would Google what the dreams meant. 


“You’re looking for control in a certain aspect of your life.” 

“You’re missing a time in your life and wish to get it back.”

“You want to have sex with your father.”

Obviously, my dreams were up for extensive interpretation. I chose to ignore what the search results had to say and continued on suffering every night. At one point, the nightmares became so bad, I was AFRAID to go to sleep.

RELATED: You Can Get PTSD From Staying In An Emotionally Abusive Relationship


I was scared to tell my psychiatrist, for fear she’d think I was crazy … well, crazier than I already was. However, when I did explain what was happening, it was clear to her. “You have PTSD.” Huh? I was never in the military and I immediately dropped ROTC in high school when they said jumping jacks were required. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder was for veterans of war, not me. 

But it turns out, I was SO wrong. Did you know that 7.8% of Americans actually suffer from PTSD at some point in their lives, and it's twice as likely to affect women than men. (I know, I was pretty shocked as well.)

Apparently, the tumultuous relationship I had with my mother growing up (and into adulthood) caused me such distress, I had developed this mental illness.

With therapy, it’s gotten better, but I’m not cured. I still wake up at night, shaking and wet from perspiration. But I will say, it was a relief attaching a name to what I was going through. Of course, it didn’t make it any easier, but at least I was able to do my own research and understand what was going on in my head. 


Hey, approximately 5.2 million people have PTSD at any given time, so do yourself a favor and catch the symptoms now so you can get help. And remember, you’re not alone.

Here are 8 common symptoms of PTSD that can affect anyone:

1. Irritability

You begin to have frequent mood swings and general grumpiness. Irritability can quickly turn into full-on aggression which can have a negative impact on your relationships.

RELATED: Your Toxic Ex Thinks He Gave You The World — 5 Signs He Really Gave You PTSD

2. Feeling bad about yourself.

You can feel like the traumatic event was all your fault. For example, you may feel you caused your divorce or that maybe you deserved your parents' verbal abuse. You can feel so ashamed of yourself that you can have trouble explaining what happened to those closest to you.  


3. Withdrawal

Suddenly losing interest in your passions is a common symptom. All the things you used to enjoy, are no longer interesting. Your bond with your family and friends slowly starts to deteriorate.

RELATED: What It's Really Like To Live With Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

4. Sleeplessness

People typically have difficulty sleeping for a number of reasons. For one, the stress and anxiety may make it hard for you to fall asleep. And once you are asleep, you may struggle with constant nightmares. 

5. Severe anxiety

You always feel tense and worried for what may seem like no reason. Severe anxiety takes a physical toll on your body. You can suffer from chest pains, nausea, and shortness of breath. You can also react with fear to things that aren't considered dangerous.


6. Difficulty concentrating

You are trying to focus on working, and you just can't seem to concentrate. You try to push through your day like usual, but you can't think clearly. Your work performance suffers.

7. Flashbacks 

You will regularly have flashbacks of the horrific event. It's known as "re-experiencing symptoms." It feels as if you're actually living in the event. You feel the same emotions, sounds, and smells. Anything can trigger flashbacks.

8. Paranoia

You have your guard up, and you're always on the lookout for danger. You need to see everything in your environment. You feel like you have to be ready just in case something happens even though your are completely safe. 


RELATED: How To Turn Your Trauma Into Something Meaningful

Liza Walter is a writer who focuses on current events, pop culture, and true crime. Jamille Jones is a writer who specializes in topics surrounding PTSD.