It is important to get a professional opinion regarding a PTSD diagnosis. The following information is based on the DSM-5 PTSD criteria. Criterion are separated into a number of different categories. Symptoms might be experienced in one or more category and severity of symptoms can vary in different categories.
The categories are: Exposure to stressor, intrusion symptoms, persistent avoidance, negative alterations in cognitions and mood, alterations in arousal and reactivity, duration, functional significance or exclusion.
PTSD Diagnosis Criterion Symptoms
Criterion A – Exposure to stressor
Recognition of direct or indirect exposure
- Direct exposure to the traumatic event
- You witnessed the traumatic event
- You learnt of a traumatic event
- Repeated or extreme indirect exposure to a traumatic event
Criterion B – Intrusion Symptoms
Experience of at least one of the following symptoms
- Recurrent memories of the traumatic incident
- Traumatic dreams in relation to the traumatic event
- Dissociation symptoms which include flashbacks (feeling as if the traumatic event is happening again in the present moment)
- Psychological distress caused by cues that serve as reminders of the traumatic event
- Strong physiological reaction to reminders of the traumatic event
Criterion C – Persistent Avoidance
At least one of these two criteria
- Avoiding thoughts, feelings and physical symptoms which trigger memories of the traumatic event.
- Avoiding external reminders of the traumatic event which can include: people, places and activities
Criterion D – Negative Alterations in Cognitions and Moods
At least two of the following criteria.
- Dissociative amnesia – not being able to remember important aspects of the traumatic event
- Persistent and negative beliefs or cognitions about self, other people or the world. I am a bad person, or the world is an unsafe place
- Persistent or cognitive distortions in relation to blaming self or others for causing or consequences of the traumatic incident.
- Negative trauma related emotions – for example: shame, anger, guilt or fear
- Loss of interest in activities or interests once enjoyed
- Feelings of detachment or estrangement from others
- The inability to experience positive emotions – for example happiness and love
Criterion E – Alterations in arousal and reactivity
- At least two of the following changes in arousal and reactivity
- Irritable or aggressive behaviour
- Self-destructive, impulsive or reckless behaviour
- Feeling in a hypervigilant state – feeling as if you are constantly on guard
- Exaggerated startle response - being startled easily
- Problems concentrating
- Problems sleeping
Criterion F – Duration of symptoms
- Acute distress disorder symptoms are experienced for longer than one month
Criterion G – Functional Significance
- The symptoms impair social function, occupation and other areas in everyday living
Criterion H – Exclusion
- The symptoms are not attributable to medication, substance use or illness
For a PTSD assessment please contact us. We are based in London Paddington and Hertfordshire.