How To Diagnose PTSD

How To Diagnose PTSD

Experiencing trauma can have lasting consequences for you and your loved ones. If you feel withdrawn, overly cautious, have insomnia, and avoid people, things, or anniversaries which resurface unpleasant flashbacks – symptoms which could happen every day for months or longer – then you may be experiencing early stages of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). It’s a serious mental health ailment that can affect anyone, regardless of age, gender, or other socioeconomic markers. Thankfully, PTSD can also be treated through treatments like ketamine infusion.

How is PTSD diagnosed? Very carefully, and only following the results of a medical exam and psychiatric evaluation. Your doctor or mental health provider can make a decision after comparing your symptoms to criteria established in the DSM-5. Diagnosis depends on:

A. Witnessing a death, serious injury, or other trauma in several ways:

  1. Directly experiencing the event.
  2. Witnessing the event as it happened to others.
  3. Knowing that the trauma happened to a close family member or friend. In most cases, the incident must have been accidental or violent.
  4. Experiencing recurrent or intense exposure to aversive particulars of the trauma, like those a first responder or police officers may be repeatedly exposed to.

B. Presence of one or multiple of these symptoms beginning after the trauma happened:

  1. Recurring, involuntary, and unpleasant distressing memories of the event, which could show as repetitive play in children older than six years.
  2. Recurrentnightmares where the content is related to the trauma.
  3. Flashbacks where the person acts or feels like the trauma were recurring.
  4. Intense or protracted psychological anguish at exposure to inward- or outward-facing cues that epitomize or resemble an attribute of the trauma.
  5. Marked physiological responses to internal or external signals that represent or resemble an attribute of the trauma.

C. Constant avoidance of something related to the trauma, starting after the incident happened, as demonstrated by one or both of these:

  1. Prevention of or efforts to avoid disturbing memories, feelings, or thoughts about or closely related to the trauma.
  2. Evasion of or efforts to avoid outside reminders like activities, conversations, objects, people, places, or situations that provoke bad memories, feelings, or thoughts about or closely related to the traumatic incident.

D. Negative changes in perceptions and mood related to the trauma, beginning, or deteriorating after the trauma happened, as demonstrated by two or more of the following:

  1. Inability to recall an important facet of the trauma, normally due to dissociative amnesia, and not to other things like alcohol, drugs, or a head injury.
  2. Persistent and overstated negative beliefs or outlooks about oneself, others, or the community, like “I am terrible,” “no one is trustworthy,” “the world is completely unsafe,” or “my entire nervous system is forever ruined.”
  3. Persistent, distorted thoughts about the origin or consequences of the trauma that lead the person to take on blame or to blame others.
  4. Constant negative emotional state of being, like anger, fear, guilt, horror, or shame.
  5. Markedly reduced interest or involvement in significant activities.
  6. Feelings of estrangement or detachment from others.
  7. Persistent inability to feel positive emotions like happiness, loving feelings, or satisfaction.

E. Marked alterations in reactivity and arousal related to the trauma, starting or worsening following the trauma, as shown by two or more of these:

  1. Angry outbursts and irritable behavior (with little to no incitement), normally expressed as physical or verbal aggression for people or objects.
  2. Self-destructive or reckless behavior.
  3. Hypervigilance.
  4. Hyperbolic startled response.
  5. Troubles with concentration.
  6. Sleep problems, like trouble falling asleep or remaining asleep or restless sleep).

F. Length of the disturbance (Criteria B, C, D and E) is greater than a month.

G. The disturbance results in clinically substantial distress or deficiency in social, occupational, or other vital areas needed to function.

H. The disturbance is not caused by the physiological impacts of a substance like medication, alcohol, or another medical ailment.

Final Thoughts

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a serious mental health issue whose symptoms can be managed through regular treatment, such as that afforded by ketamine therapy. Like other mental health conditions, it can have serious consequences if ignored. To learn more about this innovative new treatment, contact our clinic today.

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