What are the symptoms of traumatic stress?

Changes in physical and emotional reactions: being easily startled or scared, always being alert to danger, self-destructive behavior, such as drinking too much or driving too fast, trouble sleeping, trouble concentrating, irritability, outbursts of anger or aggressive behavior, overwhelming guilt, or shame. They will ask you if you have experienced a traumatic event in the recent or distant past and if you have experienced it again through memories or nightmares. It's natural to feel afraid during and after a traumatic situation. Fear causes a lot of changes in the body in fractions of a second to help defend itself from danger or avoid it.

This “fight or flight” response is a typical reaction intended to protect a person from harm. Nearly everyone will experience a variety of reactions after trauma, but most people recover from initial symptoms naturally. People who continue to have problems may be diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder. People who have post-traumatic stress disorder may feel stressed or scared, even when they're not in danger.

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a psychiatric disorder that can occur in people who have experienced or witnessed a traumatic event, a series of events, or a set of circumstances. Acute stress disorder occurs as a reaction to a traumatic event, just like PTSD, and the symptoms are similar. Exposure includes directly experiencing an event, witnessing a traumatic event that happens to other people, or learning that a traumatic event occurred to a family member or close friend.