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How does a psychiatrist diagnose PTSD?

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PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) is diagnosed by a psychiatrist based on a clinical interview of the patient. An inventory of symptoms is gathered, and a flowchart of how the different anxiety disorders are diagnosed is illustrated here:

So if there is a trauma history and flashbacks (recurring images of the trauma), then this may alert the psychiatrist that a person may have PTSD. The rest of the clinical interview involves gathering more history of the trauma and a complete inventory of anxiety symptoms. In PTSD, there are symptoms of recall (flashbacks, nightmares), avoidance (avoid any reminders of the trauma), and hypervigilance (jumpy, easily startled).

answered Jun 19, 2016 by drcarlo (294,430 points)