DSM-V Diagnostic Criteria For PTSD

You may find this useful in understanding your symptoms and seeking professional help. This article is for information only and is NOT intended for self-diagnosis. For further help regarding a possible PTSD diagnosis, I recommend you consult your GP or a psychiatrist.

In 2013 the American Psychiatric Association (APA) released The fifth edition of the Diagnostic & Statistical Manual (DSM-V), which classifies a broad range of emotional states as disorders. The criteria for a diagnosis of PTSD are given below for information only and are NOT intended for self-diagnosis. All of the criteria are required for the diagnosis of PTSD by a medical professional:

Criterion A: stressor (one required)

The person was exposed to: death, threatened death, actual or threatened serious injury, or actual or threatened sexual violence, in the following way(s):

  1. Direct exposure
  2. Witnessing the trauma
  3. Learning that a relative or close friend was exposed to a trauma
  4. Indirect exposure to aversive details of the trauma, usually in the course of professional duties (e.g., first responders, medics)

Criterion B: intrusion symptoms (one required)

The traumatic event is persistently re-experienced in the following way(s):

  1. Unwanted upsetting memories
  2. Nightmares
  3. Flashbacks
  4. Emotional distress after exposure to traumatic reminders
  5. Physical reactivity after exposure to traumatic reminders

Criterion C: avoidance (one required)

Avoidance of trauma-related stimuli after the trauma, in the following way(s):

  1. Trauma-related thoughts or feelings
  2. Trauma-related external reminders

Criterion D: negative alterations in cognitions and mood (two required)

Negative thoughts or feelings that began or worsened after the trauma, in the following way(s):

  1. Inability to recall key features of the trauma
  2. Overly negative thoughts and assumptions about oneself or the world
  3. Exaggerated blame of self or others for causing the trauma
  4. Negative affect
  5. Decreased interest in activities
  6. Feeling isolated
  7. Difficulty experiencing positive affect

Criterion E: alterations in arousal and reactivity

Trauma-related arousal and reactivity that began or worsened after the trauma, in the following way(s):

  1. Irritability or aggression
  2. Risky or destructive behavior
  3. Hypervigilance
  4. Heightened startle reaction
  5. Difficulty concentrating
  6. Difficulty sleeping

Criterion F: duration (required)

Symptoms last for more than 1 month.

Criterion G: functional significance (required)

Symptoms create distress or functional impairment (e.g., social, occupational).

Criterion H: exclusion (required)

Symptoms are not due to medication, substance use, or other illness.

Two specifications:

  1. Dissociative Specification In addition to meeting criteria for diagnosis, an individual experiences high levels of either of the following in reaction to trauma-related stimuli:
    1. Depersonalization. Experience of being an outside observer of or detached from oneself (e.g., feeling as if "this is not happening to me" or one were in a dream).
    2. Derealization. Experience of unreality, distance, or distortion (e.g., "things are not real").
  2. Delayed Specification. Full diagnostic criteria are not met until at least six months after the trauma(s), although onset of symptoms may occur immediately.