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Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

A post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) diagnosis requires the occurrence of a serious threat such as death, actual or threatened injury, sexual violence. It may also occur following medical procedures, including traumatic delivery in women.

The traumatic event is re-experienced in:

  • Unwanted distressing memories
  • Nightmares
  • Flashbacks, feeling as if you are back in the traumatic situation
  • Emotional distress after exposure to reminders
  • Physical reactivity after exposure to reminders

Avoidance of trauma-related stimuli (“triggers”) after the trauma, such as:

  • Trauma-related thoughts or feelings
  • Trauma-related external reminders

Negative thoughts or feelings that began or intensified after the trauma:

  • Inability to recall details of the trauma
  • Negative views of oneself or the world
  • Exaggerated blame of self or others for the trauma
  • Negative mood state
  • Decreased interest in activities
  • Feeling isolated
  • Difficulty experiencing positive emotions

Trauma-related arousal and reactivity that began or intensified after the trauma, in the following way(s):

  • Irritability or aggression
  • Risky behavior
  • Being overly vigilant
  • Heightened startle reaction
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Difficulty sleeping

Symptoms must last for more than one month and result in functional impairment in order to make the formal diagnosis.

PTSD is treated with several types of exposure therapy, cognitive processing and cognitive behavior therapy and medication.

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