Posttraumatic Stress Disorder - Diagnosis






Mental-health professionals use a number of standards to diagnose PTSD. These standards fall into three general categories: intrusive symptoms, avoidance symptoms, and arousal symptoms. Intrusive symptoms are experiences that interrupt and interfere with a person's normal life. They include:

  • Flashbacks
  • Sleep disorders, such as nightmares
  • Intense distress when there is mention of the original event

Avoidance symptoms involve attempts by the patient to refrain from dealing with the original event. They include:

  • Trying to avoid thinking or feeling anything about the trauma
  • Inability to remember the event
  • Loss of ability to feel and express emotions
  • A sense that the past is approaching very quickly

Arousal symptoms are obvious changes in a person's mental state. They include:

  • Problems falling asleep
  • Sudden and extreme reactions to unexpected noises
  • Memory problems
  • Concentration problems
  • Moodiness
  • Violence

PTSD in children can also be diagnosed based on other symptoms. These include:

  • Learning disabilities
  • Memory or attention problems
  • Increased dependency on other people
  • Increased anxiety
  • Self-abuse

Huseuin Gusic (right), a veteran of the Bosnian war, talking with Dr. Avdo Sakusic (left) about war related nightmares. (Reproduced by permission of AP/Wide World Photos)
Huseuin Gusic (right), a veteran of the Bosnian war, talking with Dr. Avdo Sakusic (left) about war related nightmares. (Reproduced by permission of
AP/Wide World Photos
)

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