MYTH: Everyone with PTSD experiences the same symptoms.

FACT: PTSD can present very differently, depending on the person and type of trauma experienced.

The diagnosis of PTSD includes a variety of symptoms, and there are many different ways that PTSD can present. Based on the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, version 5, PTSD symptoms are included in four clusters. These are:

Re-experiencing symptoms — intrusive thoughts or dreams related to re-living the trauma

Avoidance — actively avoiding any thoughts, places or potential triggers related to the trauma

Negative thoughts and mood — difficulty remembering parts of the trauma, unusual or illogical thoughts related to why the trauma happened 

Arousal symptoms —difficulty sleeping or concentrating, being easily startled 

A diagnosis of PTSD requires that a person has at least one symptom from each of these clusters for at least a month. Because a range of symptoms fall under each cluster, someone with PTSD could have any combination of symptoms. This means that PTSD could look very different from one person to the next. For example, while one person may have symptoms involving re-experiencing dreams and having difficulty concentrating, someone else may not have any difficulty sleeping but have an elevated startle response. There is no one way for PTSD to present, and the symptoms experienced can depend on the person and the type of trauma experienced. 



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