Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) has been described as "the complex somatic, cognitive, affective and behavioral effects of psychological trauma" . PTSD is characterized by intrusive thoughts, nightmares and flashbacks of past traumatic events, avoidance of reminders of trauma, hypervigilance, and sleep disturbance, all of which lead to considerable social, occupational, and interpersonal dysfunction.
The diagnosis of PTSD can be challenging because of the heterogeneity of the presentation and resistance on the part of the patient to discuss past trauma.
The diagnosis of PTSD is made in the subset of people who have experienced trauma who are unable to cope with the consequences of trauma and whose well-being over time is greatly impacted by these consequences. Concerns have been expressed about the potential to "over-medicalize" normal reactions to trauma, on one hand, while failing to recognize and address PTSD, on the other .
Pharmacotherapy and psychotherapy of PTSD are discussed separately. The epidemiology, pathophysiology, clinical manifestations, diagnosis, and treatment of PTSD with dissociative features are also discussed separately. The epidemiology, pathophysiology, clinical manifestations, diagnosis, and treatment of acute stress disorder are also discussed separately. (See "Pharmacotherapy for posttraumatic stress disorder" and "Psychotherapy for posttraumatic stress disorder" and "Dissociative aspects of posttraumatic stress disorder: Epidemiology, clinical manifestations, and diagnosis" and "Acute stress disorder: Epidemiology, clinical manifestations, and diagnosis" and "Treatment of acute stress disorder".)
Many different types of trauma have been found to result in PTSD, including those listed below. Many of these events are common, resulting in a large number of affected individuals.