Diagnosis of Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
- Acute—symptoms last between 1-3 months after the event
- Chronic—symptoms last more than three months after the event
- Delayed onset—symptoms don’t appear until at least six months after the event
Diagnosis of PTSD is usually based on the following:
Your doctor will ask you about your symptoms and medical history. This could be done by a structured interview and/or questionnaire. You will be given a psychological assessment and asked about past trauma. PTSD will be diagnosed if you have the specified symptoms, they last for more than one month, and they result in both emotional distress and disturbed functioning (problems at school, work, and/or in family and peer relationships).
Diagnosis is often based on the criteria outlined in the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV), which include the following:
- Exposure to a traumatic event
- Repeated vivid and uncontrollable memories
- Dreams and recollections of the event
- Emotional numbness
- Physical symptoms of fear triggered by cues in the environment or other physical sensations that dredge up the traumatic event
- Interference with work, school, and/or relationships
Evaluation for Substance Abuse
Using and withdrawing from addictive substances can cause
Evaluation of Other Psychiatric Disorders
Other psychiatric disorders often occur with PTSD. You may be tested for other psychiatric disorders, such as:
National Center for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder website. Available at: http://www.ncptsd.va.gov/ .
American Academy of Family Physicians website. Available at: http://www.aafp.org/online/en/home.html .
Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV-TR). American Psychiatric Association; 2000.
Last reviewed March 2009 by
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