According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Health Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-V), the criteria to diagnose Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is as follows:

Criterion A: Stressor/Traumatic Event

Trauma survivors must have been exposed to actual or threatened:

  • death
  • serious injury
  • sexual violence

The exposure can be:

  • direct
  • witnessed
  • indirect, by hearing of a relative or close friend who has experienced the event—indirectly experienced death must be accidental or violent
  • repeated or extreme indirect exposure to qualifying events, usually by professionals—non-professional exposure by media does not count

Criterion B: Intrusion or Re-Experiencing

The traumatic event is persistently re-experienced in the following way(s):

  • Intrusive thoughts or memories
  • Nightmares related to the traumatic event
  • Flashbacks, feeling like the event is happening again
  • Psychological and physical reactivity to reminders of the traumatic event, such as an anniversary

Criterion C: Avoidance

Avoidant symptoms describe ways that someone may try to avoid any memory of the event, and must include one of the following:

  • Avoiding thoughts or feelings connected to the traumatic event
  • Avoiding people or situations connected to the traumatic event

Criterion D: Negative Alterations in Mood or Cognitions

A decline in someone’s mood or though patterns, which can include:

  • Memory problems that are exclusive to the event
  • Negative thoughts or beliefs about one’s self or the world
  • Distorted sense of blame for one’s self or others, related to the event
  • Being stuck in severe emotions related to the trauma (e.g. horror, shame, sadness)
  • Severely reduced interest in pre-trauma activities
  • Feeling detached, isolated or disconnected from other people

Criterion E: Increased Arousal Symptoms

Increased arousal symptoms are used to describe the ways that the brain remains “on edge,” wary and watchful of further threats. Symptoms include the following:

  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Irritability, increased temper or anger
  • Difficulty falling or staying asleep
  • Hyper vigilance
  • Being easily startled

Criterion F: Duration

Symptoms last for more than 1 month.

Criterion G: Functional Significance

Symptoms create distress or functional impairment (e.g., social, occupational).

Criterion H:

Symptoms are not due to medication, substance use, or other illness.

There are two specifications and further subtypes.

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assessment Mental Health Disorder Trauma DSM-V Diagnostic Criteria PTSD posttraumatic