Symptoms of PTSD

November 12, 2012

Symptoms of PTSD

An individual who has experienced a traumatic event may be diagnosed with PTSD after no less than a month has passed. There are a number of signs, symptoms and causes.

Posttraumatic stress disorder will only be diagnosed if the patient is experiencing symptoms of PTSD more than a month after a traumatic event. They also must show symptoms from all three classes in order to be diagnosed. Symptoms being displayed before a month has passed are considered to be due to posttraumatic stress.

Class one symptoms include anything that is connected to the individual re-living the traumatic experience such as through nightmares or flashbacks.

Class two symptoms include avoidance of anything related to the incident or that could remind them of it. There is often also a lack of interest in everything else going around them.

Class three symptoms is primarily hyper arousal such constant irritability or the inability to sleep.

These symptoms of PTSD may show immediately or alternatively can appear much later, apparently at random in what’s known as delayed PTSD. Symptoms from all three classes must be present for the condition to be diagnosed. There is a detailed list of criteria that must be met in order for the symptoms of PTSD to be confirmed and diagnosed including:

  • The individual experiencing an event that was life threatening to themselves or others, which invoked a feeling of horror or fear.

  • The event is regularly relived in one or more ways.

  • Avoidance of all stimuli that the individual associates with the trauma as well as a generally being unresponsive.

  • Persistently excessive arousal such as the lack of need of sleep.

  • The presence of all symptoms of PTSD as stated above present more than one month after the incident.

  • Symptoms bad enough to impair social, occupational or other forms of functioning.

The symptoms of PTSD can also be categorised according to onset and duration as acute (symptoms last no longer than 3 months), chronic (symptoms last longer than 3 months) or delayed onset (there is at least 6 months between the trauma and the onset of symptoms).

Some examples of traumatic events that can trigger symptoms of PTSD include:

  • Military combat

  • A violent personal assault

  • Being kidnapped or taken hostage

  • Experiencing a terrorist attack

  • Torture

  • Becoming a prisoner of war

  • Natural or manmade disaster

  • Severe car accidents

  • Diagnosis of a life threatening illness

Both experiencing and witnessing events such as these can be responsible for the onset of the condition.

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