Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental health condition that follows a traumatic experience such as fire, rape or war. In general, there is only one type of PTSD assessment: a psychological evaluation. During a psychological evaluation, a psychiatrist or psychologist asks the patient questions about his or her condition. The doctor analyzes the patient’s responses to see if they fit into the criteria for PTSD. If the patient has PTSD, he or she should demonstrate certain symptoms associated with the condition.
There are a variety of PTSD symptoms and they vary from person to person but, in general, all of the symptoms fall into one of three main categories: intrusive memories, avoidance and arousal. Intrusive memories refer to reliving the traumatic event through flashbacks, nightmares or similar situations. Avoidance includes avoiding people or situations that are reminders of the event, as well as becoming emotionally numb. Arousal means experiencing heightened behavior such as being startled easily, displaying angry outbursts, or having trouble sleeping.
The PTSD assessment not only takes into consideration the appearance of these symptoms, but also the length of the symptoms. Since there are various medical conditions that are similar to PTSD, one of the criteria for a positive diagnosis is that the symptoms must occur for longer than a month’s time. A patient with acute stress disorder (ASD), for example, can exhibit symptoms similar to that of PTSD, but his or her symptoms would not be as lengthy as those in a patient with PTSD. Also, there could be another medical condition that is causing a person to have certain symptoms. To determine if the patient is suffering from PTSD or any of these other conditions, the doctor might have the patient undergo other medical examinations.
Anyone can experience PTSD, even children, who might also undergo a PTSD assessment. In general, children sometimes react to the condition in a different manner than adults. Symptoms that children might exhibit include being clingy, not being able to talk, and wetting the bed. As part of the assessment, the doctor might also want to speak separately with the parents or guardians of the child in question.
If the doctor determines through a PTSD assessment that a patient does indeed have the condition, the next step is treatment. Treatment options available to patients with PTSD include medications or psychotherapy. In general, a patient has a greater chance of successful treatment if his or her condition is diagnosed early and he or she obtains treatment right away.