Symptoms of trauma can be many and varied. They can also change over time.
The symptoms are generally broken into three categories: intrusive, avoidism and hyperarousal*.
Intrusive symptoms include:
• Recurring thoughts, flashbacks or nightmares about the event
• Psychological distress when experiencing something reminiscent of the trauma
• Physiological response when experiencing something reminiscent of the trauma
Avoidant or numbing symptoms include:
• Avoiding thoughts or feelings connected with the trauma
• Avoiding people / places or things reminiscent of the trauma
• Inability to recall important aspects of the trauma
• Disinterest in significant activities
• Feeling withdrawn, disconnected or different from others
• Feeling pessimistic about the future
Hyperarousal symptoms include:
• Difficulty falling or staying asleep
• Increased or exaggerated startle response (eg jumping when a door slams or a car backfires)
• Hypersensitivity – almost every remark is perceived as critical
• Hypervigilance – acute awareness of the external environment, excessive alertness
• Irritability or outbursts of anger
• Difficulty concentrating
* The symptoms for children may be different, and may include repetitive play in which parts of the trauma are re-enacted.