PTSD: 5 signs you need to know

Posted on 03/05/18 01:36:pm Five signs of PTSD

According to the National Center for PTSD, posttraumatic stress disorder, about 8 million Americans have PTSD during a given year. Women are more likely to develop PTSD, with a lifetime incidence of 1 in 10. For men, it’s 1 in 25.

Yet an even higher number of Americans experience trauma each year. So when does suffering a traumatic event lead to suffering from a traumatic disorder?

“PTSD is a mental health diagnosis characterized by five events or symptoms,” says Dr. Chad Wetterneck, PhD, clinical supervisor for Rogers Behavioral Health.

Here, Dr. Wetterneck walks us through each sign:

  1. A life threatening event. This includes a perceived-to-be life threatening event. Whether or not it actually is, it’s really about the perception of the person who experienced or witnessed the event that it could happen to them again.
  2. Internal reminders of the event. These symptoms typically present as nightmares or flashbacks. It’s important to realize that these are not simply memories. They are unwanted, intrusive episodes in which a person feels as though they are in the life threatening situation again – like they’re watching a movie or seeing it unfold in front of them. It feels very real to them.
  3. Avoidance of external reminders. Those with PTSD often do whatever they can to not think about their traumatic event, to suppress the feelings associated with it. They might avoid alleys if they were assaulted in one, or they might refuse to drive if they were in a car accident.
  4. Altered anxiety state. PTSD can leave people feeling on edge and looking out for danger (hypervigilance). Really what it boils down to is that people feel more anxious. Their startle response is exaggerated. They’re jumpy, or looking over their shoulder more often. It’s a physical reaction to the body’s increased anxiety and the need to be aware of possible threats.
  5. Changes in mood or thinking. People with PTSD can see the world as a very dangerous place. And because they focus on protecting themselves from it, it’s often difficult for them to go out in public. The isolation can lead to depression, or sometimes a person may act in an opposite way when they see no future. In that case, they may take more risks or engage in risky behaviors.

“While we are continuing to learn more about it’s complicated symptoms and diagnosis, there is no ‘cure’ for PTSD—we cannot fully remove a traumatic memory from the brain,” says Dr. Wetterneck.

“However, there are proven treatments that greatly reduce the symptoms and help people more forward with healthy lives.”

If you or someone you know is living with PTSD, Rogers provides effective treatment using cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and emphasizes prolonged exposure, experiential therapy, as well as family education.

PTSD treatment is currently offered at Rogers locations in Oconomowoc-Silver Lake, West Allis, Brown Deer, Appleton, Minneapolis, and coming soon to Madison and Chicago.


Call 800-767-4411 or go to to request a free screening.