Symptoms of Stress & Trauma

There are many symptoms and physical manifestations of stress & trauma, the more you know and recognize them the easier it will be to understand both your own reactions and those of others.

Common symptoms of stress and trauma

– Headaches
– Constipation or diarrhea
– Bed wetting
– Irritability and aggression
– Guilt, shame, or self-blame
– Substance abuse
– Sexual promiscuity
– Difficulty concentrating
– Poor desicion making
– Poor short term memory
– Hard to learn new things
– Feelings of mistrust and betrayal
– Depression and hopelessness
– Self harm
– Suicidal thoughts
– Feeling alienated and alone
– Being in a “bubble”
– Physical aches and pains

Three categories of symptoms of post-traumatic stress (PTS) 

– Re-experiencing traumatic memories
– Avoiding anything that brings back traumatic memories
– Increased anxiety and emotional arousal

1. Re-experiencing traumatic memories

– Intrusive, upsetting memories
– Flashbacks
– Nightmares
– Feelings of intense distress
– Intense physical fight/flight reactions
(pounding heart, rapid breathing, nausea, muscle tension, sweating)

 2. Avoidance and numbing

– Avoiding activities, places, thoughts, or feelings
– Inability to remember things
– Loss of interest in activities and life in general
– Feeling detached from others and emotionally numb
– Sense of a limited future

3. Increased anxiety and emotional arousal

– Difficulty falling or staying asleep
– Irritability and aggression
– Hyper vigilance
– Feeling jumpy and easily startled

In children symptoms of PTS can also include

– Fear of being separated
– Compulsive play in which aspects of trauma are included
– Phobias and anxieties that seem unrelated (such as a fear of monsters)
– Acting out traumatic memories through play, stories, or drawings