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What is a PTSD Test?

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  • Written By: Lily Ruha
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 18 October 2018
  • Copyright Protected:
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A PTSD test is a diagnostic mechanism for determining whether or not an individual is suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Individuals afflicted with this disorder suffer a wide range of debilitating mental, physical and behavioral symptoms. The PTSD test is usually performed by a licensed psychologist or other medical professional who asks the patient about traumatic events. Practitioners examine the type, severity and duration of symptoms. Researchers also have explored the possibility of diagnosing PTSD through objective methods such as monitoring the activity of brain networks.

Testing for PTSD involves looking for a combination of symptoms and behaviors. The first thing a psychologist will usually do is ask the patient about his symptoms. PTSD sufferers might experience incessant thoughts, unpleasant memories, nightmares and flashbacks related to traumatic experiences. Irritability, anger, inability to sleep and a constant state of fear are common issues. Depression is usually a prevalent symptom as well.

Post-traumatic stress disorder sometimes manifests itself in specific behaviors. A PTSD sufferer might avoid people and situations that remind him of the traumatic incident. If he was in a traumatic car accident, for example, he might refuse to drive or ride in a car for fear of reliving the incident. Some individuals with PTSD might resort to alcohol abuse or drugs to escape the pain of their traumas. This condition can also cause a previously high achieving and functional individual to perform poorly in school or at work.

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When conducting a PTSD test, practitioners also look for signs of relationship issues. A woman who was previously happy and dedicated to her marriage might, after a traumatic event, lose interest in her relationship. In some cases of PTSD, individuals become violent in their relationships. After the trauma, they might have thoughts of harming others or themselves.

The duration of symptoms following a traumatic event is of importance when diagnosing PTSD. While it is natural for human beings to experience stress following trauma, when the intense symptoms persist for more than a month and interfere with normal functioning, it is generally cause for concern. When testing for PTSD, psychologists will ask how long the individual has experienced the symptoms and if his family members have noticed changes in him.

The development of a reliable and objective PTSD test is important for accurate diagnosis and immediate treatment. Researchers have observed that PTSD sufferers have a different pattern of brain activity related to flashbacks of traumatic experiences. These patterns are also indicative of symptom severity. The impetus to develop an objective, technology-based PTSD test is also motivated by the need to accurately diagnose and treat larger numbers of war veterans afflicted with the condition.

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