5 Signs of High Functioning PTSD

Do you have suspicions that you are suffering from PTSD, but are not exactly sure? Maybe you are unsure if what you went through qualifies as traumatic, or perhaps you have doubts as to whether you have PTSD because you are still able to go throughout your day and fulfill tasks and responsibilities. 

Perhaps you have seen cases of PTSD in others (whether in person or in media), and have thought that what you go through is not as severe, invalidating your own feelings.

What is PTSD?

PTSD, or Post-traumatic stress disorder is a psychological condition that can occur as a response to a traumatic incident. This include threats of death or harm, such as war, sexual assault, violence, motor accidents, natural disasters, or medical emergencies (Post-traumatic stress disorder, Psychology Today).

PTSD can be experienced in different forms and to varying degrees. Remember that your feelings about your trauma are valid.

This article is not intended to diagnose or self-treat. Please reach out to a qualified healthcare provider or mental health professional if you are struggling.

Wit that being said, here are 5 signs of high functioning PTSD.

1. Extreme emotional reactions 

Trauma can lead to what is called hypervigilance. Do you often feel anxious, stressed out, and on-edge? You might feel as though you are constantly on high alert as a result of trauma that you have experienced. Do you find that you get startled rather easily? And on top of that, is your reaction to being startled unusually intense, even violent at times? Perhaps you feel particularly irritable and are prone to outbursts of anger from the strain of constantly feeling tense and on edge.

It is one thing to be cautious, but have you been overly conscious of your surroundings and on the lookout for potential threats, to the point that everyday life becomes a struggle? Trauma can cause these feelings, habits, and reactions as your fight-or-flight response intensifies (Krouse, 2021; Mayo Clinic, 2018; PTSD, Psychology Today; Wolff, 2018).

2. Negative changes in thoughts and mood

Have you noticed certain negative changes in your thoughts and mood? This can occur in different forms. You may be struggling with recurring feelings of fear, horror, anger, or hopelessness. You might experience emotions similar to depression, such as losing interest in activities you once enjoyed, or feeling unable to experience joy and other positive feelings. 

You might have also developed negative thoughts about other people, the world—or yourself.

Perhaps you have been feeling guilt and shame. Even though the traumatic incident is not your fault, you may have convinced yourself that it is (Kraybill, 2021; Krouse, 2021; Mayo Clinic, 2018; PTSD, Psychology Today; PTSD Symptoms, Psychology Today).

3. Avoidance

Trauma may leave you feeling vulnerable, on edge and unsafe—understandably so—which may then lead you to avoid and withdraw from certain things in order to feel safe or protect yourself. 

You might find yourself avoiding people, places, conversations, or situations that remind you of the traumatic event. Perhaps you have been going out of your way to take different routes, or cancel plans with friends even though you may have some desire to have a good time and see some people. You may feel cornered into refusing some people or situations that you don’t want to in order to avoid any reminders of your trauma, or perhaps because you are feeling too overwhelmed to socialize. 

Additionally, you may find yourself avoiding some of your own thoughts. All in all, the constant avoidance can be exhausting and take a toll on your mental health (Krouse, 2021; PTSD, Mayo Clinic, 2018; Psychology Today; PTSD Symptoms, Psychology Today; Wolff, 2018).

4. Physical problems 

You may also experience physical manifestations of your struggle with trauma, such as insomnia. Have you been having trouble sleeping? Perhaps your fears have been keeping you up at night, or you have been having nightmares related to the trauma you experienced.

You may also experience certain physical sensations when you are reminded of the incident, such as increased heart rate, sweating, breathing difficulties, or feeling faint. Often tied to anxiety, these are signs that you may be suffering from PTSD (Kraybill, 2021; Krouse, 2021; Mayo Clinic, 2018; PTSD, Psychology Today; PTSD Symptoms, Psychology Today; Wolff, 2018).

5. Reliving the trauma

You may have also been reliving the traumatic incident. Have you been having recurrent memories about the event? These may occur in spite of you trying not to think about it. As previously mentioned, you might also have nightmares, in which you relive the event or dream about circumstances related to it. 

Nightmares are also different from flashbacks, in which you might relive the incident as if it were really happening again. Whether or not you are able to somehow muddle through these resume your daily tasks, these are signs you might be suffering from PTSD (Mayo Clinic, 2018; PTSD Symptoms, Psychology Today).

Concluding Remarks

PTSD symptoms can vary from case to case in terms of severity and types of experiences. For a proper diagnosis, please do not hesitate to reach out to a qualified mental health professional. 

Living with trauma can be a daily struggle. Therapy and treatment from a qualified professional can help to 

There is no guarantee that PTSD symptoms will go away on their own or lessen with time, but there are resources that can help people regain a good quality of life (PTSD, Psychology Today).


Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders: DSM-5. Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Publishing; 2013.​

Kraybill, O. G. (2021, June 30). PTSD: An unconscious choice to stay alive. Psychology Today. Retrieved January 26, 2022, from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/expressive-trauma-integration/202106/ptsd-unconscious-choice-stay-alive 

Krouse, L. (2021, February 6). What is PTSD? Verywell Health. Retrieved January 26, 2022, from https://www.verywellhealth.com/what-is-ptsd-5084527#toc-ptsd-symptoms 

Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. (2018, July 6). Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Mayo Clinic. Retrieved January 26, 2022, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/post-traumatic-stress-disorder/symptoms-causes/syc-20355967 

Post-traumatic stress disorder . Psychology Today. (n.d.). Retrieved January 26, 2022, from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/basics/post-traumatic-stress-disorder 

Post-traumatic stress disorder Symptoms. Psychology Today. (n.d.). Retrieved January 26, 2022, from https://www.psychologytoday.com/intl/conditions/post-traumatic-stress-disorder 

Wolff, C. (2018, June 6). 7 unexpected signs you have high-functioning PTSD. Bustle. Retrieved January 26, 2022, from https://www.bustle.com/p/7-unexpected-signs-you-have-high-functioning-ptsd-9304071 

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