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Diagnosis of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Related Conditions

PTSD, ASD and Complex PTSD are diagnosed based on a clinical assessment performed by a mental health professional, usually a psychologist or psychiatrist.  This assessment includes an interview with the patient and a review of any previous assessments in their medical records, and can also include an interview with the patient's family members or close friends.  The goal of this assessment is to determine whether the patient meets the clinical criteria for PTSD, ASD or Complex PTSD based on the reports that they or their family members and friends provide. 

There are no laboratory tests or imaging tests (such as CT scans or MRI scans) that can help make a diagnosis of PTSD, ASD or Complex PTSD. However, these sorts of tests are often important in order to rule-out any other general medical conditions that may be associated with the condition.

Sometimes, clinicians may use scales and questionnaires to help identify patients with PTSD and to document the severity of their patient's symptoms.   These include:

The Clinician-Administered PTSD Scale (CAPS): This scale is based on a clinical interview of about 50-60 minutes and allows the clinician to make a diagnosis of PTSD and also rate the severity of the various symptoms.

The Davidson Trauma Scale: This self-report questionnaire is used to screen for PTSD as well as to rate the severity of symptoms for those individuals who have already been diagnosed with the condition.

The Mississippi Scale for Combat-Related Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder: This self-report questionnaire was originally designed for use in the military, but the terms can be adapted for use with civilian trauma populations. A score of 107 or more on this scale suggests that a person may have PTSD.

The Post-Traumatic Stress Diagnostic Scale (PDS): This self-report questionnaire is used to diagnose PTSD and rate the severity of the symptoms.


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Complex PTSD