Is it possible to experience your first symptoms of PTSD months or even years after a traumatic event?

First of all, PTSD is a type of anxiety disorder. Symptoms can include bad dreams, flashbacks about a traumatic event and hyperarousal, a state that might include being “on edge” a lot, being easily startled, or having problems sleeping or controlling anger. Another common symptom of PTSD is avoiding people, places and things (movies or songs, for example) that are reminders of a traumatic event.

Symptoms of what is known as “acute posttraumatic stress disorder” (PTSD) symptoms persist for less than three months following a traumatic experience. In another form known as “chronic PTSD,” symptoms last for three months or more.

In a third type of PTSD called “delayed onset PTSD,” a person experiences their first symptoms of the disorder at least six months following the traumatic event. So, yes, the initial symptoms can occur long after a traumatic event (or events) have taken place. The good news is that PTSD, regardless of when symptoms first appear, can be treated.