PTSD Coping With Subthreshold PTSD When You're Not Quite Meeting a PTSD Diagnosis By Matthew Tull, PhD Matthew Tull, PhD Twitter Matthew Tull, PhD is a professor of psychology at the University of Toledo, specializing in post-traumatic stress disorder. Learn about our editorial process Updated on February 19, 2021 Medically reviewed Verywell Mind articles are reviewed by board-certified physicians and mental healthcare professionals. Medical Reviewers confirm the content is thorough and accurate, reflecting the latest evidence-based research. Content is reviewed before publication and upon substantial updates. Learn more. by Daniel B. Block, MD Medically reviewed by Daniel B. Block, MD LinkedIn Twitter Daniel B. Block, MD, is an award-winning, board-certified psychiatrist who operates a private practice in Pennsylvania. Learn about our Medical Review Board Print Arief Juwono / Moment / Getty Images Subthreshold PTSD refers to the experiencing of some post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms after a traumatic event, but not quite enough to meet criteria for a PTSD diagnosis. Subthreshold PTSD can be associated with distress and impairment consistent with what is seen among people with a PTSD diagnosis. To officially have a diagnosis of PTSD, you need to have a certain number of re-experiencing, avoidance, and hyperarousal symptoms. PTSD Symptoms PTSD symptoms can begin up to three months after a traumatic event, but sometimes do not appear until years after the event. These symptoms cause significant problems in social or work situations and in relationships. PTSD symptoms are generally grouped into four types: intrusive memories, avoidance, negative changes in thinking and mood, or changes in emotional reactions. Intrusive Memories Symptoms of intrusive memories may include: Recurrent, unwanted distressing memories of the traumatic eventReliving the traumatic event as if it were happening again (flashbacks)Upsetting dreams about the traumatic eventSevere emotional distress or physical reactions to something that reminds you of the event Avoidance Symptoms of avoidance may include: Trying to avoid thinking or talking about the traumatic eventAvoiding places, activities or people that remind you of the traumatic event Negative Changes in Thinking and Mood Symptoms of negative changes in thinking and mood may include: Negative feelings about yourself or other people Inability to experience positive emotions Feeling emotionally numb Lack of interest in activities you once enjoyed Hopelessness about the future Memory problems, including not remembering important aspects of the traumatic event Difficulty maintaining close relationships Changes in Emotional Reactions Symptoms of changes in emotional reactions (also called arousal symptoms) may include: Irritability, angry outbursts or aggressive behaviorAlways being on guard for dangerOverwhelming guilt or shameSelf-destructive behavior, such as drinking too much or driving too fastTrouble concentratingTrouble sleepingBeing easily startled or frightened Intensity of Symptoms You may have more PTSD symptoms when you're stressed in general, or when you run into reminders of what you went through. For example, you may hear a car backfire and relive combat experiences. Or you may see a report on the news about a sexual assault and feel overcome by memories of your own assault. PTSD symptoms can vary in intensity over time. When to See a Doctor According to the Mayo Clinic, if you have disturbing thoughts and feelings about a traumatic event for more than a month, if they're severe, or if you feel you're having trouble getting your life back under control, talk to your healthcare professional. Get treatment as soon as possible to help prevent PTSD symptoms from getting worse. If You Have Suicidal Thoughts If you or someone you know is having suicidal thoughts, get help right away through one or more of these resources: Reach out to a close friend or loved one.Contact a minister, a spiritual leader, or someone in your faith community.Make an appointment with your doctor, mental health provider, or other healthcare professional. If you are having suicidal thoughts, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 988 for support and assistance from a trained counselor. If you or a loved one are in immediate danger, call 911. For more mental health resources, see our National Helpline Database. By Matthew Tull, PhD Matthew Tull, PhD is a professor of psychology at the University of Toledo, specializing in post-traumatic stress disorder. See Our Editorial Process Meet Our Review Board Share Feedback Was this page helpful? Thanks for your feedback! What is your feedback? Other Helpful Report an Error Submit Speak to a Therapist for PTSD Advertiser Disclosure × The offers that appear in this table are from partnerships from which Verywell Mind receives compensation.