When you live through a dangerous situation (for example, a traffic accident), you feel a very high level of anxiety and fear... and it’s fully justified! The increase in adrenalin, the hormone that allows us to react quickly to danger, creates an intense physical reaction, which is useful in those conditions. In general, a few hours after the event, the adrenalin and fear disappear. The danger is over.
In people who have post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), the body keeps experiencing the same physical sensations, with the same intensity, long after the dramatic incident, in the form of dreams or flashbacks. It’s literally a nightmare!
Although symptoms usually appear in the first three months after a trauma, they may sometimes appear months later, or even a few years after the fact. The most common symptoms of PTSD include sleep and concentration problems, intense fear, a feeling of powerlessness, heart palpitations, rapid breathing, shakes, chills, uncontrollable thoughts that cause distress or depression, and difficulty feeling certain emotions, such as affection or sexual desire.
Source: Gouvernement du Québec