Symptoms of PTSD can begin immediately after the traumatic event, or they may not show up for several months. For soldiers returning from combat, the chaos of travel and processing after their return may mask the symptoms until the veteran gets back into the normal routine of work and family.

The symptoms of PTSD can be different for each person. Some may be there all the time, while other symptoms may only occur when triggered by something in the veteran’s environment. The most common symptoms are:

  • Reliving the traumatic event: flashbacks, bad memories or nightmares;
  • Avoiding situations that remind you of the event: staying away from areas of road construction, tall buildings or crowded locations, keeping yourself too busy to think;
  • Uncontrollable or negative emotions: guilt, depression, thoughts of suicide, paranoia, or becoming withdrawn and distant with family; and
  • Chronic or acute anxiety: obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), constantly feeling the need to be on alert or standing with your back against the wall or away from windows when in public.

Any or all of these symptoms can have huge impacts on a veteran’s quality of life. They can result in problems sleeping, unemployment, addiction issues, physical illnesses and relationship problems.