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What is PTSD?

Gateway Criteria

The person affected must have been exposed to a traumatic event, such as a car accident, which involved actual or threatened death or serious injury or a threat to the physical integrity of that person or another. Additionally the person’s response at the time must have involved fear, helplessness or horror. Unless these gateway criteria are fulfilled a diagnosis of PTSD is not sustainable.

Apart from the gateway criteria, other symptoms have to be present:

The person re-experiences the event in one or more specified ways

  • recurring, intrusive and distressing recollections or dreams of the event
  • acting or feeling as if the original event was recurring
  • intense psychological distress and
  • psychological reactivity on exposure to cues/ reminders of the event (e.g. panic, anxiety)

Persistent avoidance of stimuli associated with the event and numbing of general responsiveness.

  • Efforts to avoid thoughts and/ or activities
  • Inability to recall important aspects of the event
  • Diminished interest
  • Feelings of detachment
  • Restricted range of affect (feelings) and/or a
  • Sense of foreshortened future

Persistent symptoms of increased arousal. Two or more of the following symptoms should be present:

  • Sleep disturbance
  • Irritability or anger
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Hypervigilance
  • Exaggerated startle response

The above three groups of symptoms must have lasted for a month or more and the disturbance has to cause clinically significant distress, impairing social, occupational or other important areas of functioning.

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