Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder


By: Cassie Sieradzky

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is classified in the DSM-5 as a trauma and stress related disorder. PTSD is commonly triggered after a traumatic event, such as violent personal assaults, natural or unnatural disasters, accidents, or military combat. PTSD is frequently comorbid with depression, substance abuse, or anxiety disorders. For PTSD to be diagnosed, symptoms must be present for at least 1 month and they must create distress in the individual and impact daily functioning.

First, an individual must be exposed to death, threatened death, actual or threatened serious injury, or actual or threatened sexual violence, in the following way: direct exposure, witnessing the trauma, or learning that a relative or close friend was exposed to a trauma.

One intrusion symptom must also be present. The intrusion symptoms include unwanted upsetting memories, nightmares, flashbacks, emotional distress after exposure to traumatic reminders, and physical reactivity after exposure to traumatic reminders. Avoidance of trauma-related stimuli after the trauma occurred is also a symptom of PTSD. For example, an individual may avoid trauma-related thoughts or feelings or situations that remind them of the trauma. Two symptoms of negative changes in thought are also required for a diagnosis. An individual with PTSD may experience an inability to recall key features of the trauma, overly negative thoughts or assumptions about oneself or the world, exaggerated blame of self or others for causing the trauma, negative affect, decreased interest in activities, and/or feelings of isolation. Lastly, to be diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, the individual must experience alterations in reactions and behaviors, such as irritability/aggression, risky or destructive behavior, hypervigilance, heightened startle reaction, difficulty concentrating, or difficulty sleeping.

If you or a loved one appears to be suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, the licensed psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, and psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy can assist you. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively, at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment. For more information, visit

DSM-5 Criteria for PTSD. (2018, March 14). Retrieved April 02, 2018, from

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. (n.d.). Retrieved April 02, 2018, from

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