DSM-5 PTSD Diagnostic Criteria

Helps diagnose posttraumatic stress disorder in adults and children over 6 years based on eight categories of symptoms.

Refer to the text below the calculator for more information about the positive criteria for PTSD diagnosis based on the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.


The fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) by the American Psychiatric Association has been updated in 2013 and now places PTSD in the “Trauma- and Stressor-Related Disorders” category, not anymore in the category of anxiety disorders (as per DSM-4).

Whilst onset of symptoms may occur immediately after the exposure, full diagnosis is usually met at around 6 months after the trauma.


DSM-5 PTSD criteria classification PTSD positive diagnosis (all of the below)
Criterion A: stressor ≥1 (from 4) present
Criterion B: intrusion symptoms ≥1 (from 5) present
Criterion C: avoidance ≥1 (from 2) present
Criterion D: negative alterations in cognitions and mood ≥2 (from 7) present
Criterion E: alterations in arousal and reactivity ≥2 (from 6) present
Criterion F: duration Present
Criterion G: functional significance Present
Criterion H: exclusion Present

A

Exposure

Exposure to actual or threatened death, serious injury, or sexual violence in ≥1 of the following ways:
B

Intrusion Symptoms

Presence of ≥1 of the following intrusion symptoms associated with the traumatic event(s), beginning after the traumatic event(s) occurred:
C

Avoidance

Persistent avoidance of stimuli associated with the traumatic event(s), beginning after the traumatic event(s) occurred, as evidenced by one or both of the following:
D

Negative Alterations

Negative alterations in cognitions and mood associated with the traumatic event(s), beginning or worsening after the traumatic event(s) occurred, as evidenced by ≥2 of the following:
E

Altered Reactivity

Marked alterations in arousal and reactivity associated with the traumatic event(s), beginning or worsening after the traumatic event(s) occurred, as evidenced by ≥2 of the following:
F.G.H

Additional Criteria

Must meet all 3:
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DSM-5 PTSD Diagnostic Criteria Explained

Diagnosis of posttraumatic stress disorder in adults and children over 6 years of age is based on the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) by the American Psychiatric Association

Whilst onset of symptoms may occur immediately after the exposure, full diagnosis is usually met at around 6 months after the trauma.

Diagnostic criteria for PTSD include a history of exposure to a traumatic event along with specific stipulations and symptoms from four separate symptom clusters: intrusion, avoidance, negative alterations in cognitions and mood, and alterations in arousal and reactivity.

A sixth criterion concerns duration of symptoms; a seventh assesses functioning, whilst the eighth criterion confirms that symptoms are not attributable to substance use or to a co-occurring medical condition.

The table below summarizes the DSM-5 categories:

DSM-5 PTSD criteria classification PTSD positive diagnosis Description
Criterion A: stressor ≥1
(from 4) present
Exposure to actual or threatened death, serious injury, or sexual violence
Criterion B: intrusion symptoms ≥1
(from 5) present
Presence of intrusion symptoms associated with the traumatic event(s), beginning after the traumatic event(s) occurred
Criterion C: avoidance ≥1
(from 2) present
Persistent avoidance of stimuli associated with the traumatic event(s), beginning after the traumatic event(s) occurred
Criterion D: negative alterations in cognitions and mood ≥2
(from 7) present
Negative alterations in cognitions and mood associated with the traumatic event(s), beginning or worsening after the traumatic event(s) occurred
Criterion E: alterations in arousal and reactivity ≥2
(from 6) present
Marked alterations in arousal and reactivity associated with the traumatic event(s), beginning or worsening after the traumatic event(s) occurred
Criterion F: duration Present Duration of the disturbance (Criteria B, C, D and E) is more than 1 month
Criterion G: functional significance Present The disturbance causes clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning
Criterion H: exclusion Present The disturbance is not attributable to the physiological effects of a substance (e.g., medication, alcohol) or another medical condition

The DSM has been updated in 2013 and now places PTSD in the “Trauma- and Stressor-Related Disorders” category, not anymore in the category of anxiety disorders (as per DSM-4).

Compared to the DSM-4, the DSM-5 not only changes the wording of some symptoms but is also clearer in defining what events are considered traumatic. It also separates avoidance symptoms into their own symptom group (Criterion C). Additionally, it introduces new specifier called "dissociative features".

 

Reference

American Psychiatric Association. (2013) Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders, (5th ed.). Washington, DC: Author.


Specialty: Psychiatry

Article By: Denise Nedea

Published On: August 31, 2020

Last Checked: August 31, 2020

Next Review: August 31, 2025