PTSD is categorized according to when symptoms occur and how long they last. There are three types of PTSD:
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-V), which include the following:
Using and withdrawing from addictive substances can cause anxiety and other symptoms that resemble PTSD. Your doctor may ask about your use of alcohol and other drugs.
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.
DynaMed Editors. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://dynamed.ebscohost.com/about/about-us. Updated August 25, 2010. Accessed September 5, 2010.
National Center for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder website. Available at: http://www.ncptsd.va.gov.
Stern, TA et al. Massachusetts General Hospital Comprehensive Clinical Psychiatry. 1st ed. Philadelphia: Mosby Elsevier, 2008.
Last reviewed November 2013 by Michael Woods, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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