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Know the signs of post-traumatic stress disorder

Post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, manifests with severe anxiety after a traumatic event. This disorder may affect individuals who have served in combat, have experienced a serious auto accident or have witnessed a natural disaster. 

Explore the symptoms of PTSD and learn more about treatment options. 

Signs of PTSD 

While feelings of fear and anxiety are normal after trauma, PTSD symptoms persist for months or years. Doctors group the common signs of this condition into four categories: 

  • Intrusive memories, including nightmares about the event, flashbacks about the event during the day and severe reactions to reminders that trigger disturbing memories of the event 
  • Avoidance of people, activities or places that trigger reminders of the event and/or unwillingness to discuss the trauma 
  • Mood changes, including negative thoughts, feelings of detachment, emotional numbness, lack of interest in favorite activities, memory loss and hopelessness 
  • Physical effects, including guilt, shame, aggressive behavior, difficulty concentrating, sleep changes, risky behavior, constantly being on guard and/or being easily frightened 

These symptoms may vary in intensity over time, but you should see a doctor if any of these troubling symptoms last longer than a few weeks.  

SSDI for PTSD 

Individuals who have severe PTSD may be temporarily or permanently unable to work. You can apply for Social Security disability insurance if your doctor attests to your inability to maintain employment because of your condition. 

For approval, your medical records must show that you experience one or more of the following: 

  • Generalized anxiety with three or more symptoms such as vigilant or scanning behavior, muscle tension, trembling, fear, rapid heartbeat, shortness of breath, dizziness and/or dry mouth 
  • Severe panic attacks that occur at least once per week 
  • Irrational fear of a certain activity, object or situation that leads you to avoid the item in question 
  • Ongoing compulsive behavior or obsessive thoughts 
  • Recollection of a traumatic experience 

Your medical records must also show that you are either completely unable to function outside your home or have restrictions in normal daily activities, impaired social functioning, difficulty concentrating and/or worsening psychiatric symptoms.