Posttraumatic Stress Disorder
Published Online: 30 JAN 2010
Copyright © 2010 John Wiley & Sons, Inc. All rights reserved.
Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology
How to Cite
Miller, M. W., Marx, B. P. and Keane, T. M. 2010. Posttraumatic Stress Disorder. Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology. 1–3.
- Published Online: 30 JAN 2010
Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a psychiatric disorder defined by symptoms reflecting disturbances in cognitive, behavioral, and physiological functioning that develop in the wake of exposure to a psychologically traumatic event. According to the DSM-IV-TR (American Psychiatric Association, 2000), the diagnosis applies to individuals who develop a requisite number of symptoms after experiencing, witnessing, or being confronted with an event that involved perceived or threatened loss of life, serious injury, or loss of physical integrity and that evoked fear, helplessness, or horror (e.g., military combat, sexual or physical assault, serious accidents, and major disasters). DSM-IV-TR organizes the symptoms of PTSD under three clusters: (1) reexperiencing (e.g., intrusive thoughts, nightmares, flashbacks, and psychophysiological reactivity to reminders of the trauma), (2) avoidance and emotional numbing (e.g., avoiding stimuli associated with the trauma and inability to experience a full range of emotions), and (3) hyperarousal (e.g., hypervigilance, exaggerated startle response, and sleep disruption). By definition, these symptoms must persist for more than 1 month after the trauma and produce clinically significant distress and/or impairment.