First let me make everyone aware that PTSD is not my area of expertise so I will be speaking in very general terms today…
What is PTSD? Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is a mental health disorder that can occur after someone experiences a traumatic event such as combat, assault, or disaster. Most people experience some kind of stress reaction in response to experiencing trauma. PTSD can be the manifestation of this reaction…and the individual could develop a cluster of symptoms that may be later diagnosed as PTSD.
In order to be diagnosed with PTSD the individual must meet several criterion based on the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders – also know as the DSM. Currently mental health and medical providers use the DSM-5 which is the 5th edition of this manual and it was released in May of this year (2013).
There are 8 criteria in the DSM5 for a PTSD diagnosis.
The 8 categories the symptoms may fall in are: Stressor, Intrusion Symptoms, Avoidance, Negative Alterations in Cognitions or Mood, Alterations in Arousal and Reactivity, Duration, Functional Significance, and Attribution.
There are a couple of other special symptoms folks can experience with PTSD, but these 8 categories are the areas mental health and medical providers initially assess.
And anyone, child or adult, can be diagnosed with PTSD although how the symptoms might manifest can look different from person to person.
PTSD can co-occur with other mental health diagnosis such as depression, substance abuse and traumatic brain injuries.
Mental health and medical providers typically use a combination of their clinical interview and some screening measures to diagnose the disorder.
Treatment for PTSD may include a combination of psychotherapy and pharmacotherapy (medication).
And there are also some specialized forms of treatment that may prove helpful including a treatment approach known as Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprogramming (EMDR) and Stress Inoculation Training and over at EVMS they are using the Neurostar Chair to stimulate specific brain activity. The chair is FDA approved to treat depression and one of my colleagues, Dr. Serina Neumann is currently using it to see if would be effective as a treatment method for some our veterans coming back who are struggling with PTSD.
Things to remember about PTSD is that while it’s listed as a mental health diagnosis there are multiple components that play a role in someone developing the condition along with psychological functioning including biological and physiological components.
Another thing to keep in mind is that PTSD is a diagnosis that doesn’t just effect the individual with the disorder…it effects them, their families and loved ones…so from a treatment perspective it can be helpful to get multiple family members involved in the treatment process.
If someone is interested in finding out more info they can go to: The National Center for PTSD online at www.ptsd.va.gov