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What Is a PTSD Screening?

C. Webb
C. Webb

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a chronic response to a past traumatizing event. It is classified as a serious mental disorder. Untreated PTSD causes a reduced quality of life, higher risk of death, and difficulty functioning in everyday life. The condition is one of the most unrecognized, least-screened-for disorders in the mental health field. Tools used in PTSD screening include counseling conversation and symptoms assessments.

Military personnel most commonly suffer from PTSD, but events can cause the disorder to appear in civilians. Witnessing a death, becoming a victim of violent crime, and other traumatizing scenarios can trigger PTSD in an otherwise mentally healthy individual. Mental health experts are trained to recognize symptoms and begin the PTSD screening process.

Screenings allow healthcare professionals to determine whether someone is suffering from PTSD.
Screenings allow healthcare professionals to determine whether someone is suffering from PTSD.

Speaking with a client is the first step in assessing whether or not the client has PTSD. Engaging the client in conversation allows the exploration of current life stresses and past traumas. In addition, an assessment questionnaire is typically used in the PTSD diagnosis process.

One popular PTSD assessment tool is a seven-item questionnaire. Questions on the assessment probe the client's thought process and reactions to past events. It asks if the client has ever witnessed life-threatening events. If yes, it further asks whether the client felt fear, helplessness, or horror.

Mental hospitals screen people for a variety of psychological conditions.
Mental hospitals screen people for a variety of psychological conditions.

The rest of the assessment focuses on the after-effects of that event. Questions about recurring dreams, reliving the event, or having intense reactions when reminded of the event are included. The assessment also addresses whether the client avoids people and situations that may trigger event memories.

A full PTSD screening involves counseling, assessments, and a ruling out of other disorders. Many mental health issues, including anxiety, depression, and bipolar disorder, could be behind a patient's problems. A PTSD screening focuses on the possibility of PTSD, or of PTSD in addition to other disorders.

Military personnel most commonly suffer from PTSD.
Military personnel most commonly suffer from PTSD.

Treatment of PTSD depends on what the PTSD screening determined. In some cases, the client is prescribed anxiety or depression medications. Other cases involve regular counseling sessions with a mental health care expert. In many instances, treatment uses a combination of both.

Problems sleeping, inappropriate anger, and inability to focus on tasks are all explored during a PTSD screening. Clients are encouraged to continue treatment for the purpose of working though the triggering event and returning to a normal state of mind. Such treatment can take months or years to complete.

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    • Screenings allow healthcare professionals to determine whether someone is suffering from PTSD.
      By: John Gomez
      Screenings allow healthcare professionals to determine whether someone is suffering from PTSD.
    • Mental hospitals screen people for a variety of psychological conditions.
      By: boscorelli
      Mental hospitals screen people for a variety of psychological conditions.
    • Military personnel most commonly suffer from PTSD.
      By: Monkey Business
      Military personnel most commonly suffer from PTSD.