What is PTSD?
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
- 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.