The signs of post-traumatic stress disorder must continue for more than 30 days for a PTSD diagnosis. If these symptoms last less time, than they may rather be signs of acute stress disorder. The length of time after the traumatic event before these symptoms onset do not negate the possibility for PTSD, or make the emotions or experiences any less valid. The duration of post traumatic stress disorder’s symptoms likewise do not invalidate the seriousness of the illness, or the events experienced. DSM-IV defines acute post-traumatic stress disorder as lasting less than three months, chronic post-traumatic stress disorder as lasting three months or more, and delayed-onset post-traumatic stress disorder as when symptoms of PTSD occur six months or more after the trauma.
Symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder include:
- Persistent preoccupation with the traumatic experience affecting daily life
- Dissociation – emotional numbness, a perceived disconnection between cognitive thought and the body or emotional state
- Increased arousal – such as hypervigilance, insomnia, difficulty staying asleep, or anger issues
- Flashbacks – recurring dreams revolving around the traumatic experience, flashback memories, intense reaction to any reminder of the trauma experienced
- Depression – feelings of hopelessness, low self-esteem, and difficulties in previously established relationships