In recent weeks PTSD has been in the news.   It is a serious and painful psychological disorder.  Unfortunately the term is often tossed around frivolously by attorneys and psychologists.   In point of fact Post Traumatic Stress Disorder should not be diagnosed unless all of the following criteria are present.

  1. The person has been exposed to a traumatic event in which both of the following occurred:
    • the person experienced serious injury, or a threat to the physical integrity of self or others
    • the person’s response involved intense fear, helplessness, or horror.
  1. The disturbing event is repeatedly re-experienced in one (or more) of the following ways:
    • intrusive distressing recollections of the event.
    • recurrent distressing dreams of the event.
    • acting or feeling as if the traumatic event were recurring.
    • intense psychological distress at exposure to things that symbolize or resemble the traumatic event
    • physiological reactivity on exposure to internal or external cues that resemble an aspect of the traumatic event
  1. Avoidance of things associated with the trauma and numbing of emotional response by one of the following:
    • efforts to avoid thoughts associated with the trauma
    • efforts to avoid activities, places, or people that remind the person of the trauma.
    • inability to recall an important aspect of the trauma.
    • severely diminished interest in life activities.
    • feeling of detachment from others.
    • restricted range of emotion (e.g., unable to have loving feelings)
    • sense of a pessimistic future (e.g., does not expect to have a career, marriage, children, or a normal life span)
  1. Persistent symptoms of increased arousal as indicated by two (or more) of the following:
    • difficulty falling or staying asleep
    • irritability or outbursts of anger
    • difficulty concentrating
    • hyper vigilance
    • exaggerated startle response
  1. These symptoms must last more than one month.
  1. The disturbance causes distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning.