PTSD Checklist Calculator

Helps diagnose post-traumatic stress disorder based on DSM-5 criteria via 17 self-report standardized questions.

Refer to the text below the tool for more information about scoring the 17 items and about the criteria for positive diagnosis.


This PTSD checklist is a standardized self-report rating scale for diagnosing post-traumatic stress disorder in civilians, thus can be applied generally to any traumatic event.

The checklist consists in 17 items that correspond to the key symptoms of PTSD as defined by DSM-5 criteria and each item is scored on a 5-point scale from Not at all (bothered by symptoms) to Extremely (bothered by symptoms).


Positive diagnosis of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) by DSM-5 Criteria, via the PTSD Checklist PCL (if all three below apply):

  • At least 1 answer of 3, 4 or 5 points at questions 1 to 5;
  • At least 3 answers of 3, 4 or 5 points at questions 6 to 12;
  • At least 2 answers of 3, 4 or 5 points at questions 13 to 17.

Instruction to patient: Below is a list of problems and complaints that veterans sometimes have in response to stressful life experiences. Please read each one carefully, and choose the option that indicates how much you have been bothered by that problem in the last month.

1Repeated, disturbing memories, thoughts, or images of a stressful experience from the past?
2Repeated, disturbing dreams of a stressful experience from the past?
3Suddenly acting or feeling as if a stressful experience were happening again (as if you were reliving it)?
4Feeling very upset when something reminded you of a stressful experience from the past?
5Having physical reactions (e.g., heart pounding, trouble breathing, or sweating) when something reminded you of a stressful experience from the past?
6Avoid thinking about or talking about a stressful experience from the past or avoid having feelings related to it?
7Avoid activities or situations because they remind you of a stressful experience from the past?
8Trouble remembering important parts of a stressful experience from the past?
9Loss of interest in things that you used to enjoy?
10Feeling distant or cut off from other people?
11Feeling emotionally numb or being unable to have loving feelings for those close to you?
12Feeling as if your future will somehow be cut short?
13Trouble falling or staying asleep?
14Feeling irritable or having angry outbursts?
15Having difficulty concentrating?
16Being `super alert` or watchful on guard?
17Feeling jumpy or easily startled?
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Steps on how to print your input & results:

1. Fill in the calculator/tool with your values and/or your answer choices and press Calculate.

2. Then you can click on the Print button to open a PDF in a separate window with the inputs and results. You can further save the PDF or print it.

Please note that once you have closed the PDF you need to click on the Calculate button before you try opening it again, otherwise the input and/or results may not appear in the pdf.


 

PTSD Diagnostic Checklist Explained

This PTSD diagnostic checklist is a standardized self-report rating scale for diagnosing post-traumatic stress disorder in civilians, thus can be applied generally to any traumatic event.

The checklist consists in 17 items that correspond to the key symptoms of PTSD as defined by DSM-5 criteria. The respondent is asked to consider how bothered they have been by each symptom over the past month and choose an answer on a 5-point scale:

  • Not at all (1);
  • A little bit (2);
  • Moderately (3);
  • Quite a bit (4);
  • Extremely (5).

Whilst the checklist may be scored with a final score of up to 85, where the higher the score, the greater the impact of PTSD symptoms, a positive PTSD diagnosis is valid if all three of the below apply:

  • At least 1 answer of 3, 4 or 5 points at questions 1 to 5;
  • At least 3 answers of 3, 4 or 5 points at questions 6 to 12;
  • At least 2 answers of 3, 4 or 5 points at questions 13 to 17.

Currently, PTSD diagnosis is based on the 2013 update of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) where post-traumatic stress disorder has been included in the Trauma- and Stressor- Related Disorders.

The conditions included in the classification require exposure to a traumatic or stressful event, whether in military or civilian life.

A separate version of diagnostic criteria is also available for children aged 6 or younger.

The criterion categories from the DSM-5 include:

DSM-5 PTSD criteria classification Description
Criterion A: stressor The person was exposed to: death, threatened death, actual or threatened serious injury, or actual or threatened sexual violence.
Criterion B: intrusion symptoms The traumatic event is persistently re-experienced (e.g. upsetting memories, nightmares etc.)
Criterion C: avoidance Avoidance of trauma-related stimuli after the trauma
Criterion D: negative alterations in cognitions and mood Negative thoughts or feelings that began or worsened after the trauma
Criterion E: alterations in arousal and reactivity Trauma-related arousal and reactivity that began or worsened after the trauma
Criterion F: duration Symptoms last for more than 1 month.
Criterion G: functional significance Symptoms create distress or functional impairment (e.g. social, occupational).
Criterion H: exclusion Symptoms are not due to medication, substance use, or other illness.
 

Reference

Weathers, F. W., Litz, B. T., Keane, T. M., Palmieri, P. A., Marx, B. P., & Schnurr, P. P. (2014, February 5). PTSD Checklist for DSM-5 (PCL-5). National Center for PTSD.


Specialty: Psychiatry

Year Of Study: 2015

Article By: Denise Nedea

Published On: August 31, 2020

Last Checked: August 31, 2020

Next Review: August 31, 2025