Posttraumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, is diagnosed after a person experiences symptoms for at least one month following a traumatic event. The disorder is characterized by three main types of symptoms:
- Re-experiencing the trauma through intrusive distressing recollections of the event, flashbacks, and nightmares.
- Emotional numbness and avoidance of places, people, and activities that are reminders of the trauma.
- Increased arousal such as difficulty sleeping and concentrating, feeling jumpy, and being easily irritated and angered.
Diagnosis criteria that apply specifically to children younger than age six include the following. Read more details.
Exposure to actual or threatened death, serious injury, or sexual violation:
- direct experience
- witnessing the events as they occurred to others, especially primary caregivers (Note: Does not include events witnessed only in electronic media, television, movies, or pictures.)
- learning that the traumatic events occurred to a parent or caregiving figure
The presence of one or more of the following:
- spontaneous or cued recurrent, involuntary, and intrusive distressing memories of the traumatic events (Note: Spontan