Post-traumatic stress disorder


The Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental illness caused by an experienced trauma (violence, war, natural disaster, etc.). The symptoms of PTSD usually appear within six months and are manifested by anxiety, flashbacks, hypersensitivity, or sleep problems. Posttraumatic stress disorder should be treated psychotherapeutically and possibly also medically. Read here everything important about the Posttraumatic Stress Disorder.

ICD codes for this disease: ICD codes are internationally valid medical diagnosis codes. They are found e.g. in medical reports or on incapacity certificates. F43

An untreated PTSD often affects sufferers years after their trauma. Psychotherapy requires a special experience, but can bring many affected people back to normal life.

Marian Grosser, Doctor Article Overview Post traumatic stress disorder
  • description
  • symptoms
  • Causes and risk factors
  • Examinations and diagnosis
  • treatment
  • Disease course and prognosis

Posttraumatic stress disorder: description

Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a mental illness that occurs after traumatic events. The term trauma comes from the Greek and means "wound" or "defeat". A trauma thus describes a very stressful situation in which the affected person feels helpless and helpless. This does not mean normal, if painful, life situations such as the loss of a job or the death of relatives. Post-traumatic stress disorder is caused by exceptional and extreme emergencies.

Such a trauma can arise, for example, from directly experienced violence (physical - also sexual - or psychological) or experienced violence such as during a war. The exceptional emergencies of natural disasters can also trigger a PTSD. The person is exposed to a life-threatening situation.

Posttraumatic stress disorder is also called post-traumatic stress syndrome because it can involve many different symptoms. Are possible, for example, complaints such as anxiety, irritability, sleep disorders or even panic attacks (tachycardia, tremors, shortness of breath). Flashbacks are also typical - the repeated experience of the traumatic situation, in which the person affected is flooded by memories and emotions.

Posttraumatic stress disorder: frequency

The post-traumatic stress disorder usually occurs six months after the experience and can in principle hit anyone. A US study estimates that eight percent of the population experience post-traumatic stress disorder once in their lifetime. According to another study, doctors, soldiers and police are at up to 50 percent more at risk of PTSD. German scientists published results according to which a rape in 30 percent of cases leads to a post-traumatic stress disorder.

Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

The complex post-traumatic stress disorder requires particularly severe or particularly long-lasting trauma. In those affected usually shows a serious disease with personality changes. Symptoms mainly affect personality and behavior.

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Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder: Symptoms

You can read more about the posttraumatic stress disorder - symptoms in the article Posttraumatic Stress Disorder.

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Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder: Causes and Risk Factors

The causes of posttraumatic stress disorder can be very diverse. In any case, it is a traumatic experience. The victim suffers a serious threat and feels that it is about his own survival.

Physical violence in the form of rape, torture or war usually favors a post-traumatic stress disorder more than natural catastrophes or accidents that no one can blame directly for. The experienced human violence can not usually be reconciled with the existing world view. There is then a direct "enemy" that represents the threat.

Individuals without social support are considered more susceptible to post-traumatic stress disorder. The unstable social background, low levels of parent education and low family support increase the risk of post-traumatic stress disorder. Crime in the immediate environment is also considered a risk factor.

People with a mental illness are also more susceptible to the post-traumatic stress disorder. Even those who suffered under a very authoritarian style of education with punitive consequences of the parents, carries a higher risk for the post-traumatic stress disorder.

The risk of a complex post-traumatic stress disorder is greater if the trauma occurred over a longer period of time, experts suggest.

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Posttraumatic stress disorder: examinations and diagnosis

The post-traumatic stress disorder must be distinguished from an acute stress response. The symptoms are similar in both cases (anxiety, confusion, isolation, etc.). However, the acute stress response refers to a state of mental overwork immediately after experiencing a severe physical or mental condition. Posttraumatic stress disorder, on the other hand, only sets in after a delay after the trauma.

A PTSD is diagnosed by its symptoms. This is not always easy, as the symptoms often overlap with other illnesses (anxiety disorder, borderline disorder, depression). If a person feels physical suffering such as shortness of breath, rapid heartbeat, trembling or sweating, he usually turns to his family doctor first. This will first clarify organic causes. If there is a suspicion of a post-traumatic stress disorder, he refers the person concerned to a psychiatrist or psychotherapist.

In the initial consultation with a specially trained trauma therapist, the diagnosis "post-traumatic stress disorder" is usually not asked. The therapist first asks questions about the CV and any existing illnesses. Only cautiously he inquires about any triggering factors for the current condition. Direct questions about the trauma can worsen the condition and eventually overwhelm the patient and make him inaccessible to subsequent psychotherapy.

Posttraumatic stress disorder: diagnostic criteria

In order to diagnose a post-traumatic stress disorder, according to the International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems (ICD-10), the following criteria must be met:

  • The patient was exposed to a stressful event (of extraordinary threat or catastrophic magnitude) that would provoke almost every helplessness and despair.
  • There are growing and lasting memories of the experience (flashbacks).
  • The person concerned avoids situations and circumstances that are similar to the triggering situation.
  • Irritability and temper tantrums
  • difficulty concentrating
  • Sleep-in and sleep-through disorders
  • hypersensitivity
  • Increased dreadfulness
  • A partial to complete inability to remember the stressful event
  • Symptoms must occur within six months of the trauma.

Posttraumatic stress disorder: test

To diagnose the post-traumatic stress disorder, there are several standardized questionnaires:

The so-called "Clinician-Administered PTSD Scale"has been developed specifically for the diagnosis of" Posttraumatic Stress Disorder. "It includes questions about the trauma itself, it raises questions about whether, how often and in what intensity the various symptoms of PTSD occur.And finally depression or suicidal thoughts are clarified.

Of the SCID-I Test is also a widely used structured clinical interview to diagnose post-traumatic stress disorder. It is a guide interview: The interviewer asks questions and then encodes the answers. For inpatients, performing a SKID-I test takes on average 100 minutes. The diagnosis "posttraumatic stress disorder" can be secured with this test.

Complex post-traumatic stress disorder: test

Whether a complex post-traumatic stress disorder is present, is usually also clarified with the help of an interview. The Structured Interview on Disorders of Extreme Stress (SIDES) has proven itself.

A German-language test version is the "Interview on the complex post-traumatic stress disorder" (I-KPTBS). Questions are also asked and answers are coded.