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## What is PTSD

Post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, is a mental health condition that appears after someone experiences or witnesses a traumatic or terrifying event.

According to psychiatry.org, PTSD is

"a psychiatric disorder that may occur in people who have experienced or witnessed a traumatic event such as a natural disaster, a serious accident, a terrorist act, war/combat, or rape or who have been threatened with death, sexual violence or serious injury."

PTSD is commonly thought of a mental health disorder that is linked to soldiers after war, but PTSD can happy to anyone, any ethnicity, any nationality, any culture, and at any age. Approximately 3.5% of U.S. adults are affected by PTSD.

## Do I have PTSD? Signs and Symptoms of PTSD

PTSD may start within 1 month of a traumatic event, but sometimes can appear years after an event. Symptoms of PTSD can greatly affect social and work situations, and relationships.

PTSD symptoms are typically grouped into 4 categories: intrusive memories, avoidance, negative changes in thinking and mood changes, and changes in physical and emotional reactions. Let's learn more about each category:

### Intrusive Memories

For a person with PTSD and intrusive memories, symptoms may include:

• Troubling dreams about the traumatic event
• Severe emotional distress when something reminds them of their traumatic event
• Having flashbacks, or reliving the event over and over again
• Having unwanted memories of the traumatic event

### Avoidance

For those who have PTSD and avoidance, symptoms may include:

• Avoiding places, thoughts, or people that make them remember their traumatic event
• Avoiding thoughts related to the traumatic event

### Negative Changes in Thinking or Mood

For a person with PTSD and negative changes in thinking or mood, symptoms may include:

• Feeling numb emotionally
• Lack of interest in activities once enjoyed
• A difficulty in creating or maintaining strong relationships
• Feeling negative emotions and difficulty feeling positive ones
• Forgetting certain parts of the traumatic event or other memory problems
• Feeling hopeless about things in the future
• Having negative thoughts generally about yourself, others, or the world

### Changes in Physical and Emotional Reactions

For a person with PTSD and changes in physical and emotional reactions, symptoms may include:

• Feeling overwhelmed with guilt or shame
• Having trouble sleeping
• Having difficulty concentrating
• Self destructive behavior
• Being paranoid in looking for danger
• Being easily scared or frightened
• Having angry outbursts or unusual aggressive behavior

## DSM-5 Diagnostic Criteria for PTSD

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), or DSM-5, outlines that all of the following criteria are required for a diagnosis of PTSD:

### Criterion B: Symptoms of Intrusion - One is Required

Criterion C: Avoidance - One is Required

Criterion D: Negative Alterations in Mood and Cognitions - Two are Required

Criterion E: Alterations in Arousel and Reactivity

### Criterion F: Symptoms Duration

PTSD symptoms must last for more than one month.

Criterion G: Functional Significance

### Criterion H: Exclusion

Your symptoms cannot be caused by medications taken, substance abuse, or other illness

### Two Specifications

#### Dissociative Specification

In addition to the above criterion for diagnosis, an individual experiences high levels of either of the following reactions:

• Depersonalization - An experience that someone suffering from PTSD may have that feels as if they are detached from themselves, or an outside observer. They may feel as if they were in a dream.
• Derealization - An experience that someone suffering from PTSD may have that things are not real, things are distorted.

#### Delayed Specification

An individual with delayed specification will not meet full diagnostic criteria until at least 6 months after the trauma occurred. Some onset of symptoms may occur quickly or immediately.

## PTSD Treatment

If you need help, there is hope! Reach out to a licensed mental health professional that treats PTSD.

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