How Is PTSD Diagnosed?

How Is PTSD Diagnosed?

6% of people in the United States develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) during their lifetime. PTSD is a psychiatric condition that occurs after going through a life-threatening or highly stressful traumatic event. 

Having a heightened sense of fear and anxiety following a dangerous event is normal, but these symptoms usually subside over time. But with PTSD, the symptoms continue and get worse. 

How do you know if you have PTSD? Only a mental health professional can diagnose the disorder. 

At Reviv Functional Psychiatry & TMS Wellness Center in Fullerton, California, our experienced psychiatrist, Dr. Hina Sidhu, conducts thorough psychiatric evaluations to determine the source of symptoms. Here, we want to explain how we diagnose PTSD.

Evaluating the trauma

Many stressful experiences can cause trauma, which is your emotional reaction to a horrible event. However, not all traumatic events result in PTSD. 

To consider PTSD as a diagnosis, we must confirm the trauma you experienced was shocking or dangerous. Combat, physical assault, and natural disasters are examples of life-threatening events that may lead to PTSD.

You don’t have to personally experience these dangerous events to develop PTSD. It’s possible to get the disorder after hearing about someone else's trauma. Repeated exposure to trauma inflicted on others, like a first responder who sees death and loss regularly, may lead to PTSD.

Reviewing symptoms

After discussing the trauma, we look for a specific set of symptoms. It’s common to have nightmares or feel on edge and jumpy. 

To diagnose PTSD, we look for specific symptoms that fall into the following categories:

The severity of the symptoms can vary, but they must be present for more than a month, make you feel distressed, and disrupt your normal routine. 

Are you at risk?

Only a small percentage of people who experience traumatic events develop PTSD. Certain factors may make you more vulnerable, such as a history of childhood trauma or having little support after the event. A personal or family history of mental illness is also a risk factor.

With the proper diagnosis and treatment, you can recover from PTSD. We take a whole-person approach to mental well-being, treating your emotional, social, and physical health. We prescribe psychiatric medications to alleviate symptoms, provide trauma-focused psychotherapy, and offer guidance on lifestyle changes that benefit overall health. 

If you’re having difficulty processing your trauma, now is the time to seek help. Call our office today or book an appointment online. Telemedicine appointments are available.

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