Understanding PTSD Body Language: Signs and Symptoms

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a severe mental health condition brought about by exposure to a traumatic event or experience. PTSD can impact an individual’s physical, emotional, and psychological well-being. One way that PTSD can manifest itself is through body language.

PTSD body language can provide clues about an individual’s emotional and psychological state, particularly in situations where the individual may find it challenging to express themselves verbally. It’s essential to understand the subtle cues and signals that people with PTSD may exhibit in different situations.

In this blog post, we’ll explore the various aspects of PTSD body language, including the standing body language, common behaviours, and physical signs. We’ll also examine the question of whether PTSD can make you mean, and if being shouted at can cause PTSD.

Moreover, we’ll look at how body language can play a crucial role in counselling therapy and what therapists look out for when working with clients with PTSD. We’ll also delve into the body sensations with complex PTSD, which can vary from person to person.

Lastly, we’ll attempt to answer the critical question of what PTSD looks like to others and highlight signs that someone may display after experiencing physical assault. Whether you have PTSD or know someone struggling with it, understanding PTSD body language can be helpful in identifying and providing the necessary support.

PTSD and Sign Language

Body language isn’t the only way someone with PTSD may communicate their feelings. For some individuals, using sign language can be more comfortable and less distressing. Here are some important points to consider when it comes to PTSD and sign language:

What is Sign Language?

Sign language is a visual language that uses hand gestures, facial expressions, and body movements to communicate. It’s commonly used by people who are deaf or hard of hearing, but it can also be used as a means of communication for people who find it challenging to express themselves verbally, like those with PTSD.

Benefits of Sign Language

Using sign language can provide a sense of safety and security for someone with PTSD. Some of the benefits include:

  • A non-verbal means of communication that can reduce anxiety
  • Greater privacy in public spaces
  • A way to communicate without attracting unwanted attention

Sign Language and PTSD Therapies

There are several PTSD therapies that use sign language as a form of nonverbal communication, including:

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
  • Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)
  • Prolonged Exposure Therapy (PE)

Learning Sign Language

Learning sign language takes time and practice, but it can be an essential tool for people with PTSD. Some resources to learn sign language include:

  • Online courses and tutorial videos
  • Community classes and workshops
  • Local deaf or hard-of-hearing communities

For some individuals with PTSD, body language isn’t the only means of communication. Sign language provides a non-verbal, private means of communication that can reduce anxiety and empower someone with PTSD to express themselves in ways that may feel difficult verbally.

Standing Body Language and PTSD

When experiencing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), individuals may exhibit physical symptoms, including changes in body language. Here’s what to look for when it comes to standing body language:

Upright Posture

PTSD may cause individuals to feel vulnerable or anxious, which can result in slouching or hunching over. However, those who have overcome their trauma may exhibit confidently upright posture.

Tense Muscles

Tension in the muscles, particularly around the shoulders and neck, can indicate feelings of stress or anxiety. This is often accompanied by shallow breathing.

Feet Placement

PTSD sufferers may stand with their feet apart or unevenly placed. This stance can indicate a sense of instability or a lack of control.


Fidgeting and shifting weight from foot to foot can be signs of nervousness or anxiety. This behavior may also indicate a desire to leave a given situation.

Faster Movements

Stress and anxiety can cause individuals to operate at a faster pace. Speaking and moving quickly, without pausing, can indicate feelings of haste or nervousness.

Key Takeaways

  • Upright posture indicates confidence and a sense of control.
  • Tense muscles and shallow breathing can signal feelings of stress or anxiety.
  • Unevenly-placed feet suggest a lack of stability or control.
  • Fidgeting and shifting weight from foot to foot may indicate nervousness or a desire to leave.
  • Rapid speech and movement can indicate feelings of haste or anxiety.

It’s essential to remember that while body language can provide clues about an individual’s emotional state, it’s not always accurate. Always approach others with compassion and empathy, especially those who have experienced trauma.

Does PTSD Affect Your Temper and Make You Mean?

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental condition that affects many people, especially those who have faced traumatic events in their lives. While the condition can manifest itself in different ways, one common symptom is a change in behavior and mood. This often leads to the question, “Does PTSD make you mean?” Let’s explore this topic in more detail.

The Effects of PTSD on Behavior

PTSD can affect a person’s emotions, thoughts, and behavior, and some people may become argumentative, irritable, or aggressive towards others. However, it’s important to note that not everyone with PTSD experiences this symptom, and those who do may show these behaviors only in certain situations.

Understanding Triggers

People with PTSD may experience triggers that bring back memories of traumatic events, causing them to feel overwhelmed and out of control. These triggers can include sights, sounds, smells, or other reminders of the event. When affected by triggers, people with PTSD may act aggressively or impulsively, which can sometimes make them appear to be “mean.”

Seeking Help

If you or someone you know is experiencing symptoms of PTSD and is concerned about changes in behavior or mood, it’s essential to seek professional help. A mental health professional can guide you through treatment options, which may include therapy, medications, or a combination of both.

Coping Strategies for PTSD

There are also several coping strategies that can help people with PTSD manage their symptoms:

  • Practice deep breathing exercises
  • Engage in physical activities, such as exercise or yoga
  • Use positive self-talk or affirmations
  • Avoid alcohol and drugs,
  • Communicate honestly and openly with loved ones and close friends

Understanding the Complexity of PTSD Symptoms

In conclusion, there is no definitive answer to whether PTSD makes you mean or not. Still, it’s clear that PTSD symptoms can significantly affect a person’s behavior and mood. It’s essential to seek professional help and learn coping strategies to manage these symptoms and improve your quality of life. Remember that PTSD is a complex mental condition, and everyone’s experience with it is different.

Can Being Yelled at Cause PTSD?

PTSD or post-traumatic stress disorder is a condition that can occur when a person experiences or witnesses a traumatic event like war, abuse, or accidents. There are different causes that can lead to this disorder, including being yelled at.

Here are some details about whether being yelled at can cause PTSD:

The Impact of Verbal Abuse

Verbal abuse or being yelled at repeatedly can lead to psychological damage. People who experience verbal abuse are likely to develop depression, anxiety, and other symptoms. When someone is continually subjected to verbal abuse, it can lead to PTSD-like symptoms.

Understanding PTSD

PTSD is a condition that can occur when a person experiences, witnesses, or learns about a traumatic event. PTSD can cause physical, mental, and emotional changes that interfere with daily activities. PTSD is more common in military veterans but can affect anyone who experiences trauma.

Loud Noises and PTSD

Loud noises are one of the triggers of PTSD. It is essential to remember that yelling is a loud noise and can trigger people with this disorder.

The Connection Between PTSD and Verbal Abuse

Research has shown that verbal abuse is closely linked to PTSD. People who experience verbal abuse are more likely to develop trauma than those who have not experienced it. Verbal abuse can occur in various forms, including insults, criticism, gaslighting, and yelling.

Other Factors that Can Cause PTSD

PTSD can be caused by various traumatic events, including physical abuse, sexual assault, natural disasters, and car accidents. It is essential to understand that being yelled at is one of the factors that can cause PTSD but not the only factor.

Key Takeaways

  • Verbal abuse, including being yelled at, can cause PTSD-like symptoms.
  • PTSD is a condition that can occur when a person experiences, witnesses, or learns about a traumatic event.
  • Loud noises like yelling can trigger PTSD in some people.
  • Verbal abuse is closely linked to PTSD and can occur in different forms.
  • Being yelled at is one of the factors that can cause PTSD but not the only factor.

In conclusion, being yelled at repeatedly is a form of verbal abuse that can cause psychological damage and lead to PTSD-like symptoms. While it is not the only factor that can lead to PTSD, it is essential to understand the impact of verbal abuse and to seek professional help if you experience any PTSD-like symptoms.

Body Language in Counseling: A Guide for Therapists and Clients

Body language is a crucial aspect of communication that can convey a lot of information about a person’s thoughts, feelings, and emotions. In counseling sessions, body language can play an essential role in building rapport, establishing trust, and improving the overall therapeutic process.

What is Body Language and Why is it Important?

Body language refers to the non-verbal communication signals displayed through movements, gestures, and actions. It can provide insights into a person’s emotional state, level of comfort, and level of engagement. Therapists who have a good understanding of body language can use it to interpret their clients’ emotional states, identify areas of distress, and adjust the therapy accordingly. Clients who are aware of their body language can use it to regulate their emotional responses, build rapport with their therapists, and increase their overall comfort level.

How to Improve Your Body Language in Counseling?

Improving your body language in counseling can help you communicate more effectively, build trust with your therapist, and achieve your therapy goals. Here are some tips to improve your body language in counseling:

  • Maintain eye contact: Looking directly at your therapist can convey confidence, attentiveness, and interest.
  • Use appropriate facial expressions: Facial expressions can indicate a wide range of emotions, such as happiness, sadness, anger, or frustration. Try to project the right facial expressions to match your emotional state.
  • Be aware of your posture: Sitting up straight can convey confidence and assertiveness, while slouching can indicate discomfort or lack of confidence.
  • Use appropriate gestures: Gestures such as nodding, leaning forward, and using hand movements can indicate attentiveness and engagement.
  • Mirror your therapist’s body language: Mirroring your therapist’s body language, such as adopting a similar posture or gesture, can help build rapport and establish trust.

Body Language in Counseling PDF: Resources for Therapists and Clients

There are many resources available online in PDF format that can provide more detailed information on body language in counseling.

  • “Non-Verbal Communication in Therapy” by Linda Hill: This PDF provides an overview of non-verbal communication in therapy and how therapists can use it to improve their practice.
  • “The Role of Body Language in Counseling” by Ron Huxley: This PDF discusses the importance of body language in counseling and provides practical tips for therapists and clients.
  • “Effective Body Language in Therapy” by Sharon Martin: This PDF provides a guide to effective body language in therapy, including tips for therapists and clients.

In conclusion, body language is an essential aspect of communication in counseling sessions. Therapists who have a good understanding of body language can use it to interpret their clients’ emotional states, identify areas of distress, and adjust the therapy accordingly. Clients who are aware of their body language can use it to regulate their emotional responses, build rapport with their therapists, and increase their overall comfort level. By improving your body language, you can enhance your overall counseling experience and achieve better therapy outcomes.

What Does PTSD Look Like to Others?

When someone has PTSD, their body language can tell a lot about what they’re feeling or experiencing. Here are some common signs and symptoms that others might notice:

1. Hyperarousal

  • Restlessness or agitation
  • Irritability or angry outbursts
  • Hypervigilance or being easily startled
  • Insomnia or difficulty sleeping

2. Avoidance

  • Avoiding certain places, situations, or people that remind them of the trauma
  • Trying to numb themselves with drugs, alcohol, or other distractions
  • Feeling disconnected from others or detached from reality

3. Reexperiencing

  • Flashbacks or intrusive memories
  • Nightmares or vivid dreams
  • Physical reactions like sweating, trembling, or heart palpitations

4. Emotional Instability

  • Mood swings or emotional outbursts
  • Apathy or emotional numbness
  • Guilt, shame, or self-blame

5. Physical Symptoms

  • Chronic pain, headaches, or gastrointestinal issues
  • Fatigue or exhaustion
  • Increased heart rate or elevated blood pressure

It’s important to remember that everyone with PTSD may experience different symptoms, and not everyone will display them outwardly. However, being aware of these common signs can help us better understand and support loved ones who may be struggling with PTSD.

Signs of PTSD After Physical Assault

Physical assault can have long-lasting effects on the victim, leading to a variety of physical and mental health issues, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). If you or someone you know has experienced physical assault, it’s essential to be aware of the signs of PTSD, which can manifest in various ways. Here are a few common indicators of PTSD after physical assault:

Nightmares and Flashbacks

One of the most common symptoms of PTSD is experiencing nightmares or flashbacks. These intrusive memories can pop up at any time, leaving the person feeling overwhelmed and fearful, often causing them to relive the assault in their minds.


People with PTSD may become easily startled, irritable, or on edge after experiencing physical assault. They can also have difficulty falling asleep and may have trouble concentrating, leading to an inability to function correctly in everyday life.


People with PTSD may avoid situations, people, and anything that reminds them of the traumatic event. After physical assault, some may choose not to go out in public or may avoid social situations entirely, leading to isolation, sadness, and depression.

Emotional Numbing

PTSD can cause emotional numbness, reducing a person’s ability to experience happiness, love, or care. They may feel detached from their emotions, leading to feelings of emptiness and hopelessness.

Physical Symptoms

Physical symptoms include headaches, stomach aches, fatigue, and muscle tension. These symptoms are often a result of the body’s involuntary stress response.

Difficulty Remembering

People with PTSD may struggle to recall specific details of the assault or the events leading up to it. This difficulty remembering may also cause them to experience confusion or disorientation.

In conclusion, PTSD is a severe mental health condition that can have profound and lasting effects on the quality of life. If you or someone you know has experienced physical assault and are displaying these symptoms, it’s essential to seek professional help immediately. Remember, you don’t have to go through this alone. With the right support and care, people with PTSD can overcome their symptoms, learn coping strategies, and move forward with their lives.

What are common Behaviours with PTSD?

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) can manifest into several behaviours and symptoms that can impact a person’s daily life. Here are some common behaviours associated with PTSD:


People with PTSD may feel constantly on alert, making it difficult for them to relax or sleep. They may also avoid certain places, situations or people that they associate with their traumatic experience.

Emotional numbness

Individuals with PTSD may experience emotional detachment, feeling as though they have lost the ability to experience emotions fully.


Avoidant behaviour is a hallmark of PTSD. People with PTSD may avoid people, places, situations, and activities that remind them of their traumatic experience.

Mood swings

PTSD may cause individuals to experience mood swings, ranging from anger, depression, fear, to irritation.


People with PTSD may have flashbacks, nightmares, or intrusive thoughts about the traumatic event. This can be incredibly distressing and challenging to manage.

Self-destructive behaviour

PTSD can cause individuals to engage in self-destructive behaviours such as self-harm or substance abuse.


Trouble sleeping is a common symptom of PTSD and can affect mood, energy, and overall quality of life.

Physical symptoms

People with post-traumatic stress disorder may experience a range of physical symptoms, including nausea, chest pain, heart palpitations, and headaches.

Difficulties with concentration

PTSD can impact attention, memory, and concentration leading to difficulty in performing daily tasks.

To conclude, PTSD can manifest itself in various behaviours and symptoms, and it is vital to seek support and treatment for anyone experiencing these symptoms.

Physical Signs of PTSD

It’s difficult to spot someone with PTSD just by looking at them. Everyone is different and may not show visible signs of trauma. However, here are some physical indicators that someone may be struggling with PTSD:


  • They are always on edge
  • They struggle to sleep or stay asleep
  • They tense up at sudden noises or movements


  • They isolate themselves from others
  • They avoid talking about their experiences
  • They distance themselves from things that remind them of their trauma


  • They may relive their experiences through vivid memories
  • They become easily overwhelmed and triggered by certain situations
  • They seem to be “checked out” during a flashback

Emotional Regulation Issues

  • They may switch between feeling numb and feeling everything all at once
  • They display outbursts of anger, frustration, or sadness
  • They struggle with coping mechanisms and rely on unhealthy habits

It’s important to remember that not everyone shows physical signs of PTSD. We should always approach each individual with empathy and respect. If someone opens up to you about their experiences, listen with an open mind and heart.

What Body Language Do Therapists Look At?

As a patient seeks therapy, they understand that their body language will be observed and interpreted by the therapist. Therapists pay close attention to their patient’s body language to understand what they are going through, including their emotions, thoughts, and experiences.

Here are some of the critical body language cues that therapists look for during therapy sessions:

Nonverbal Communication

Therapists pay close attention to their patient’s nonverbal communication, including:

  • Body posture
  • Facial expressions
  • Eye contact
  • Gestures
  • Tone of voice

These cues help therapists understand their patient’s level of comfort and engagement in the therapy session.

Tension and Relaxation

Therapists also observe the tension and relaxation in their patient’s body language, such as:

  • Fidgeting
  • Clenched fists
  • Rapid breathing
  • Heavy sighing
  • Muscle tension

These cues help therapists identify their patient’s anxiety level and detect signs of stress or trauma that they may be experiencing.

Emotional Responses

Therapists observe the patient’s emotional responses, including:

  • Crying
  • Shaking
  • Sweating
  • Blushing
  • Increased heart rate

These cues help therapists gauge their patient’s emotional state and understand their reactions to specific topics or questions.

Verbal Cues

Therapists listen carefully to their patient’s verbal cues, including:

  • Hesitations
  • Pauses
  • Tone of voice
  • Word choice
  • Verbal attacks

These cues help therapists understand their patient’s beliefs, thoughts, and attitude towards their trauma or stressor.

In conclusion, therapists look at various body language cues to understand their patient’s emotional state and provide them with the necessary therapy they need. Being aware of your body language during therapy can help you develop a deeper understanding of yourself and your emotions.

What Does Complex PTSD Feel Like in the Body?

Complex PTSD is a condition that affects individuals who have experienced prolonged trauma or abuse. This type of PTSD can have a profound impact on a person’s body, causing physical sensations that can be confusing and difficult to understand. Here are some of the ways that complex PTSD can manifest in the body:


Hypervigilance is a state of heightened awareness that many people with complex PTSD experience. This can manifest as feeling on edge, jumpy, or easily startled. Hypervigilance can also cause physical sensations like the feeling of butterflies in the stomach, sweating, and a fast heartbeat.


Dissociation is a psychological response to trauma that can cause a person to feel disconnected from their body or surroundings. This can result in physical sensations like feeling numb, detached, or like you’re outside of your body looking in.

Panic Attacks

Panic attacks are a common symptom of complex PTSD and can manifest in a variety of physical ways. Some people experience chest pain, difficulty breathing, or sweating during a panic attack.

Chronic Pain

Chronic pain is a physical symptom that many people with complex PTSD experience. This can manifest as headaches, back pain, or joint pain. Chronic pain may be a result of the body being in a constant state of stress, which can cause inflammation and tension in the muscles.

Sensory Overload

Sensory overload can occur when a person with complex PTSD is exposed to stimuli that trigger their trauma. This can manifest as physical sensations like a pounding headache, ringing in the ears, or a buzzing sensation in the body.

Adrenal Fatigue

Adrenal fatigue is a result of the body being in a constant state of stress, which can exhaust the adrenal glands. This can manifest as extreme fatigue, weakness, and a feeling of burnout.

Sleep Disturbances

Sleep disturbances are common among people with complex PTSD and can manifest as insomnia, nightmares, or restless sleep. This can contribute to feelings of exhaustion and fatigue during the day.

Digestive Issues

Digestive issues like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) are commonly experienced by people with complex PTSD. This may be a result of the body being in a constant state of stress, which can disrupt the digestive system.


Numbness is a common physical sensation experienced by people with complex PTSD. This can manifest as a lack of feeling in the hands, feet, or face.

Overall, the physical sensations and symptoms associated with complex PTSD can be confusing and difficult to understand. However, by becoming more informed about the condition and its effects on the body, individuals and loved ones can better support those who are struggling with complex PTSD.

What Do Therapists Notice About Their Clients?

When it comes to PTSD, body language can reveal a lot about a person’s mental state. Therapists are trained to pick up on even the subtlest cues that their clients might not even be aware of. Here are some of the things that therapists often notice:

Physical Signs of Anxiety

Clients with PTSD might display a range of physical symptoms, including shaking, sweating, or having trouble breathing. A therapist might notice their client’s fight or flight response being triggered, and work to help them manage their anxiety.

Avoidance Behaviors

Many people with PTSD develop avoidance behaviors to cope with their trauma. A therapist might notice that their client is hesitant to talk about certain topics or avoids eye contact.

Tension and Stress

PTSD can cause a lot of tension and stress, both physical and emotional. A therapist might notice that their client is holding their body stiffly or clenching their jaw. They might also pick up on signs of exhaustion or fatigue.

Flashbacks and Triggers

PTSD can involve vivid flashbacks that can be triggered by specific smells, sounds, or situations. A therapist might notice their client becoming agitated or panicked when faced with a trigger.

Trouble Relaxing

Many people with PTSD struggle to relax and may feel restless or on edge. A therapist might notice that their client is fidgeting or pacing, and work to help them find ways to calm down.

Emotional Outbursts

PTSD can cause intense emotions that can be difficult to control. A therapist might notice their client becoming tearful, angry, or withdrawn, and work to help them process their emotions in a healthy way.

Therapists use their expertise and experience to help their patients manage their PTSD symptoms. With their help, clients can learn to recognize and understand their body language, and begin to heal from their trauma.