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Meeting PTSD Criteria

Meeting PTSD Criteria

Sporadic glimpses of my past flash before my eyes. Momentarily, I become dissociated with reality. Stress spikes; heart flutters; chest aches. (I meet Criterion B regarding intrusion.)

I desperately dodge thoughts, feelings, & physical reminders of the traumas of my past. Sometimes that means avoiding situations, conversations, people, places, or objects. (I meet Criterion C regarding avoidance.)

Persistently plaguing negative thoughts haunt me, distorting my beliefs & expectations of the world & of myself. I often blame myself for causing the stressful events. After this eats me alive for a long while, I doubt it, temporarily falling into a well of self-pity & blaming others for my downfall. This cycle of distorted blame continues. Within the edges of my deep, dark soul, emotions related to the trauma still linger, negative vibes making a ruckus, including fear, horror, anger, guilt, & shame. Previous interests bore me, anhedonia setting in strongly. I feel alienated from others, lifeless. My inability to experience positive emotions continuously plagues me. (I meet Criterion D regarding negative alterations in cognitions & mood.)

Irritability leaks from every word I say & deed I do. Sometimes I am verbally aggressive towards others; more often, I am destructive to myself with self-harm & reckless behaviour. I become overly aware of my surroundings, an unidentified sense of paranoia lurking in the shadows. If startled, my response is extreme, or “exaggerated.” I have great difficulty concentrating on anything. My sleep is routinely & intensely disturbed. (I meet Criterion E regarding trauma-related alterations in arousal & reactivity.)

Symptoms persisting for over a month meets Criterion F regarding duration. The symptoms affecting my daily life qualify me for Criterion G regarding functional significance. The disturbances are not due to medication, substance use, or any other illness, & this meets Criterion H regarding exclusion.

The symptoms as described above meet the exact criteria for diagnosing PTSD according to the official guide, which is the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th edition (DSM-5). (This standard is established by the American Psychiatric Association & Washington DC.)

In addition to the symptoms described thus far, those with PTSD may experience dissociative symptoms, which include derealization & depersonalization. I have experienced derealization, which is the experience of unreality, distance, or distortion (e.g., “things don’t feel real”). Sometimes other people or things around me feel detached, foggy, dreamlike; existence itself feels completely surreal. The other type of dissociative symptom is depersonalization, which is the experience of being an outside observer of or detached from oneself (e.g., feeling as if “this is not happening to me” or as if in a dream).

The most important part about diagnosing PTSD, though, of course, is identifying the “stressor,” or the event that caused the PTSD. Criterion A is described as such: “The person was exposed to death, threatened death, actual or threatened serious injury, or actual or threatened sexual violence, as follows (one required): direct exposure; witnessing, in person; indirectly, by learning that a close relative or close friend was exposed to trauma; repeated or extreme indirect exposure to aversive details of the event(s), usually in the course of professional duties (e.g., first responders, collecting body parts; professionals repeatedly exposed to details of child abuse; but this does not include indirect non-professional exposure through electronic media, television, movies, or pictures).

I meet Criterion A with “direct exposure,” on more than one occasion, with actual & threatened serious injury, actual sexual violence, & actual & threatened death.

I begin to accept it the possibility that I have post-traumatic stress disorder.

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