Distinct Diagnosis: Complex Posttraumatic Stress Disorder
AuthorSweigart, Juliet E.
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Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is exhibited in patients who have distressing and/or impairing thoughts and behaviors after a traumatic event. The DSM-IV-TR (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, 4th edition, text revision) currently lists several associated features of PTSD that researchers have alternatively conceptualized as Complex Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (C-PTSD). PTSD and what would otherwise constitute C-PTSD are different in terms of etiology, symptoms, and response to treatment. They arise in response to different types of trauma, form distinct symptom clusters, and treatments specially suited to each disorder are most effective. Both clients and clinicians would benefit from the disorders being acknowledged separately in a future edition of the DSM, both in terms of accuracy and increased validated research, as well as improved diagnosis and treatment of trauma victims.