PTSD and Physical Symptoms
The physical symptoms of PTSD vary based on whether the patient is re-experiencing the trauma or is hyperaroused. The NIMH notes that when patients are emotionally numb, they do not have any physical symptoms. Some of the physical symptoms of PTSD can be severe. For example, when patients are re-experiencing the traumatic event, they can have strong physical reactions, such as rapid breathing. Some people may start feeling nauseous when reminded of the event, which may prevent them from eating. The other PTSD physical symptoms from re-experiencing the trauma resemble anxiety reactions, according to Helpguide.org. These include sweating, a pounding heart and muscle tension. These physical symptoms last as long as the patient has the flashback.
When PTSD patients are hyperaroused, they can have problems with sleep. For example, patients can have problems falling asleep or staying asleep. These sleep problems arise from patients being easily startled and vigilant. If the sleep problems persist, patients can feel fatigued or have a lack of energy.
PTSD can result in other physical symptoms. Patients may complain about pain, which can occur with the depression. For example, patients may have chest pain or stomach pain. Nausea may occur with the stomach pain. Headaches can occur as well. These pain symptoms may not go away with pain treatment like medication. Helpguide.org points out that some PTSD patients may turn to substances, like alcohol or illicit drugs to cope with the symptoms of PTSD. However, while the substance abuse temporarily reduces the emotional symptoms of PTSD, they worsen the symptoms in the long run. Substance abuse can cause physical symptoms as well. These symptoms include bloodshot eyes, tremors and slurred speech. Patients who abuse alcohol and drugs may also have noticeable changes in appearance, sleep and appetite.