Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a mental health condition that can develop after exposure to a traumatic event, such as a natural disaster, a serious accident, combat, sexual or physical assault, or other traumatic experiences.
The DSM-5 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th edition) outlines the following criteria for a diagnosis of PTSD:
- Exposure to a traumatic event: The individual must have experienced, witnessed, or been confronted with a traumatic event that involves actual or threatened death, serious injury, or sexual violence.
- Intrusive symptoms: The individual experiences intrusive symptoms, such as re-experiencing the traumatic event in the form of intrusive thoughts, images, or dreams, as well as physiological reactions, such as increased heart rate, sweating, or trembling, in response to reminders of the trauma.
- Avoidance: The individual avoids reminders of the trauma and experiences numbing or a decrease in positive emotions.
- Arousal symptoms: The individual experiences persistent symptoms of increased arousal, such as irritability, anger, problems with concentration, and sleep disturbances.
- Symptoms persist for at least one month: The symptoms must persist for at least one month, causing significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning.
A comprehensive evaluation is necessary for an accurate diagnosis of PTSD, and the use of standardized diagnostic tools, can be helpful in the diagnostic process.