Disorder that may develop (either immediately or delayed) following exposure to a stressful event or situation of an exceptionally threatening or catastrophic nature.
Characterized by 3 groups of symptoms: re-experiencing, avoidance, and hyperarousal. These symptoms must impair function for a diagnosis to be made.
More often than not, presentation is comorbid with problems such as depression, anxiety, anger, and substance misuse.
Clinicians should ask whether patients presenting with such symptoms have suffered a traumatic experience.
Assessment should cover physical, psychological, and social needs, and an assessment of risk: this can be facilitated by the use of screening questionnaires and a clinical interview schedule.
Trauma-focused psychological treatments are the most effective treatment. Pharmacotherapy may be used in patients who do not respond to, cannot tolerate, do not want, or do not have access to psychological therapies.
Three-dimensional MRI scan showing the limbic system, including the hippocampus (mid-brown)