Know the signs
The DSM-V or Diagnostic and Statistical Manual is the authoritative volume that defines mental health illness. Both physical and mental disorders can share the same symptoms, and strict criteria is used to recognize and diagnose a specific disorder. Know the signs of PTSD and you may very well save the life of a friend or a loved one. At the very least, you can improve their quality of life.
Has that friend or loved one been:
- Exposed to death, danger or personal assault.
- Exposed to a traumatic event such as natural disasters (tornado, hurricane, flood etc),
- Exposed to violent crime (rape, assault, robbery etc) or terrorist act or war/combat?
- A direct participant,
- Witness the traumatic event, or,
- Learned that a friend or family member suffered such an event and/or
- Were they indirectly exposed to details of a trauma (usually seen in police, fire, EMS etc).
Additional criteria include:
- Symptoms must have been experienced for a minimum of one month.
- Symptoms create distress or functional impairment such as occupational or social difficulties.
- Symptoms are not due to medication, substance abuse or other illness.
- Dissociative specification.
- Depersonalization. Experiencing feelings of being in a dream or feeling like "this isn't happening to me".
- Derealization. Feelings that "things are not real".
- Delayed specification:
- Delay in appearance of the full spectrum of diagnostic requirements of up to six months, even if some individual symptoms occurred immediately.
The DSM-V requires that a person exhibits at least one of the symptoms from the following categories.
- Intrusive thoughts that can manifest during sleep and when awake such as nightmares or flashbacks.
- Negative responses when triggered by something similar to the original trauma.
- Refusing to talk about their experience (not wanting to relive it)
- Avoiding the place where the trauma occurred
- Avoiding places that look similar to the place where the event occurred.
- Inability to recall key features of the trauma
- Overly negative thoughts and assumptions about oneself or the world
- Exaggerated blame of self or others for causing the trauma
- A negative affect
- Decreased interest in activities
- Feelings of being isolated
- Difficulty experiencing positive affect.
- Irritability or aggressive behavior
- Risky or destructive behavior
- Hyper vigilance
- Heightened startle reaction
- Difficulty concentrating
- Difficulty sleeping.