Diagnosis Of Post-traumatic Stress Disorder

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Diagnosis Of Post-traumatic Stress Disorder
Diagnosis Of Post-traumatic Stress Disorder
Video: Diagnosis Of Post-traumatic Stress Disorder
Video: Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) - causes, symptoms, treatment & pathology 2023, February

Post traumatic stress disorder: diagnosis

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a delayed or prolonged reaction to severe stress or threat.

In addition, there is the possibility that after repeated or persistent extreme stress (e.g. physical and / or sexual violence in childhood, torture) a lasting one Personality change developed.


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  • Post Traumatic Stress Disorder: What is it?
  • How is PTSD diagnosed?
  • Whom can I ask?
  • How are the costs going to be covered?

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder: What is it?

This disorder was first described in connection with experiences of war. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can follow unusual threatening situations (e.g. war, terrorist attacks, serious accidents, violence) or changes of catastrophic proportions (e.g. natural disasters). These are events that cause serious disturbance in (almost) everyone. This leads to various symptoms such as the constant reliving of stressful events (flashbacks), over-excitability and avoidance behavior.

Intense reactions are also possible directly during the trauma or immediately afterwards. These include:

  • Feeling that one or things or events are not real (derealization),
  • Feeling that you are not yourself (depersonalization),
  • Change in perception and time experience.

You can feel yourself to be absent and “empty” (without feelings). In this context, the symptoms mentioned are referred to as dissociation. Very strong feelings of guilt and shame as well as impaired mood can also occur.

Symptoms (not necessarily all) can also appear immediately after the traumatic event and usually improve within a period of four to a maximum of eight weeks. Only when the symptoms persist is one speaks of a post-traumatic stress disorder.

Occasionally, however, the reaction is delayed, which means that the symptoms only appear some time later. From a period of six months, one speaks of a chronic post-traumatic disorder.

How is PTSD diagnosed?

If there is a suspicion of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), the first focus is on the confidential patient discussion with the doctor or the psychotherapist, for example. The previous medical history (anamnesis) is recorded and carefully asked about the stressful events and symptoms are recorded. Sometimes standardized questionnaires are also used. It is necessary to rule out physical or other illnesses; further examinations may be arranged. For example, a neurological examination or imaging (e.g. MRI) if there is an injury (e.g. to the head) at the same time. Since physical pain also often occurs, possible organic causes must also be clarified.

Core symptoms of PTSD

Diagnostic criteria are described in ICD-10 and DSM-5. These classification systems differ in part. In Austria, the diagnosis is made according to ICD-10. According to the ICD-10, the following symptoms are prerequisites for diagnosing post-traumatic stress disorder:

  • Affected people are exposed to an event (short or long-lasting) of exceptional threat or catastrophic proportions. Such events would cause a deep despair in almost everyone.
  • Occurrence of flashbacks (persistent memories or reliving stress from intrusive, reverberant memories), living memories, repetitive dreams.
  • Avoidance of circumstances similar to or related to the exposure.

Additional symptoms of PTSD

The following symptoms may also be present:

  • Memory gaps in connection with the traumatic event
  • Increased excitement and sensitivity - with the following additional features: difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep, irritability, outbursts of anger, increased nervousness, difficulty concentrating, increased vigilance ("alarm mode").

Emotional reactions and thoughts in connection with the traumatic event play an essential role (e.g. fear, helplessness). Loss of control is a very important factor in the development of PTSD.

The symptoms do not always show themselves in full. Even if someone outwardly appears psychologically stable after a trauma, that does not mean that PTSD cannot develop.

Whom can I ask?

If you suspect that you are suffering from the consequences of a psychological trauma, you can turn to the following contact points in particular. Pay attention to the trauma-specific additional specialization:

  • Doctors for psychiatry (and psychotherapeutic medicine) or doctors with further training in psychotherapeutic medicine
  • Psychotherapist
  • Clinical psychologist
  • Crisis intervention facilities (e.g. Vienna crisis intervention center)
  • Outpatient departments for psychiatry, psychosomatic medicine and psychotherapy.

How are the costs going to be covered?

All necessary and appropriate diagnostic measures are taken over by your responsible social insurance agency. A deductible or contribution to costs may apply for certain services. You can obtain detailed information from your social security agency. Further information can also be found at:

  • Visit to the doctor: costs and deductibles
  • What does the hospital stay cost?
  • and via the online guide to reimbursement of social insurance costs.

Information on the assumption of costs for psychotherapy can be found under Psychotherapist and under Psychotherapy: Offers & Addresses. Information on the assumption of costs for clinical-psychological diagnostics can be found under Clinical Psychologist. For more information about the respective provisions, please contact your health insurance provider, which you can find on the social security website.

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