1. Exposure to actual or threatened death, serious injury, or sexual violence.
PTSD can be diagnosed if a person has been exposed to actual or threatened death, serious injury, or sexual violence. This exposure can be direct (such as being attacked) or indirect (such as learning about a traumatic event happening to a loved one).
2. Intense fear, helplessness, or horror.
People with PTSD often experience intense fear, helplessness, or horror in response to the traumatic event. This can manifest as flashbacks, intrusive thoughts, nightmares, and/or intense emotional reactions.
3. Persistent avoidance of stimuli associated with the traumatic event(s).
People with PTSD may try to avoid any reminders of the traumatic event. This may include avoiding people, places, things, conversations, or activities that are associated with the trauma.
4. Negative alterations in cognition and mood associated with the traumatic event(s).
People with PTSD often have negative thoughts and feelings about the traumatic event. They may feel guilty, ashamed, or worthless about what happened. They may also experience depression, anxiety, and/or insomnia.
5. A marked increase in arousal associated with the traumatic event(s).
People with PTSD often have an increased level of arousal in response to traumatic events. This can manifest as difficulty concentrating, feeling jumpy or on edge all the time, and/or having problems controlling emotions.
6. Duration of symptoms (symptoms must be present for more than one month).
To be considered suffering from PTSD, symptoms must persist for longer than a month. They could, however, linger for years in some circumstances.
7. Functional impairment (social, occupational, academic).
PTSD can cause significant functional impairment in social settings, at work/school, and in other important areas of life. This means that the person is having difficulty functioning in these areas due to the symptoms of PTSD.