Did you know that post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) affects about 3.5 percent of Americans annually? Moreover, an estimated 11 percent of the population will face PTSD at some point in their lifetime.
Thankfully, PTSD is a treatable health condition, but the first step is diagnosing it. Mental health professionals use a PTSD test, either in the form of an interview or a questionnaire, to screen for this condition.
Would you like to learn more about what it entails? If so, keep reading! This post will give you an in-depth look at PTSD tests.
What Is a PTSD Test?
As mentioned, the two most common types of PTSD tests are structured interviews and questionnaires. Some healthcare professionals may have their patients do both, using a set of questions to discover their symptoms and following up with a printed survey to learn more about what the patient is experiencing.
Before healthcare professionals can diagnose individuals with post-traumatic stress disorder, the patient must meet specific criteria. Here’s what they look for before starting a patient on treatment for PTSD.
Typically, PTSD stems from a traumatic event. A patient must have either been the victim or witness of this experience, which could include a:
- Physically or sexually violent act
- Automotive accident
- Near-death experience
- Severe injury
In some cases, PTSD results from repeated trauma exposure rather than one significant event. Examples include:
- Emotional abuse
- Long-term abusive relationships
- On-the-job experiences, such as social workers witnessing child abuse or police officers working on homicide or rape cases
Of course, people experience diverse forms of trauma, and only a mental healthcare worker can determine whether a person has PTSD due to what they have witnessed or gone through personally.
You can read full article on PTSD resulting from car accidents here.
2. Intrusion Symptoms
Intrusion symptoms are involuntary thoughts that happen over and over again. They tend to be memories or flashbacks of the event a PTSD patient has faced. While these may occur during the daytime, they are also common in the form of nightmares.
Another common PTSD symptom is avoidance. This term refers to dodging anything that brings back memories of the traumatic experience, including:
At times, PTSD patients do this unconsciously, which could create challenges in their life.
4. Negative Mood Shifts
Often, people with PTSD have changes to their mood that continue to worsen after the event. Common emotions include:
Post-traumatic stress may also make it difficult for survivors to do things they once enjoyed.
Sometimes, they even struggle to remember the details of their traumatic experience or may abuse substances like drugs and alcohol in an attempt to stop the flashbacks.
Another commonality among those with PTSD is a distorted worldview. Patients may have low expectations of others or believe no one can live up to their standards. Moreover, some blame themselves for what happened to them or the consequences.
In addition to these symptoms, post-traumatic stress can make it feel like the world is moving in slow motion. Joy, happiness, and love may feel impossible due to feelings of estrangement from those around them.
5. Reactivity Changes and Impairment
Doctors look for changes in reactivity or arousal in PTSD patients. They may include the following:
- Changes in sleep patterns or behavior
- Self-destructive habits
- Feeling danger is all around
- Aggressive behavior
- Getting startled easily
- Difficulty focusing
For a proper PTSD diagnosis, patients usually need at least two symptoms. However, in addition to these, patients may find it challenging to perform their responsibilities. As a result, they may jeopardize their work, family, and social life.
When Should You Get a PTSD Screening?
Those who have undergone a traumatic experience are at risk of developing PTSD. If you have any of the symptoms discussed above, you should consider getting a PTSD screening.
Sometimes, those with PTSD may find it hard to recognize their symptoms. If you recognize these symptoms in a friend or loved one, you may recommend getting they get a screening.
Where Can You Go for a PTSD Assessment?
A mental health provider, such as a psychologist or psychiatrist, can screen you for PTSD. They will likely perform a psychological analysis before screening you to rule out other causes of your symptoms. Then, if they deem it necessary, they will test you for post-traumatic stress disorder.
What Can I Expect After the Initial PTSD Screening?
After your PTSD screening, your healthcare provider may request an additional assessment. Usually, this is a sign that you screened positive for post-traumatic stress disorder.
The follow-up assessment can vary in length, depending on its purpose and whether it is needed for insurance or disability claims. However, you can expect it to be less than two hours. In some cases, they only last 15 minutes.
In some cases, healthcare providers ask your permission to talk to your spouse or other close family members. Doing so gives them a better idea of the changes that those closest to you have observed since your traumatic event.
Moreover, they may need to discuss any illnesses you have to see whether any physical side effects stem from your mental health changes.
Don’t hesitate to inform your healthcare provider if you are uncomfortable with anything they say or do. You should feel at ease with them, especially since they will be responsible for your treatment.
Don’t Wait to Treat for Your PTSD
Post-traumatic stress can seriously impact your life, but with the proper help, you can overcome it. The first step is getting a diagnosis, so don’t wait to schedule a PTSD test. Doing so will allow you to move forward with treatment and past the symptoms you are experiencing.
In some cases, those with PTSD can file civil suits when their stressors result from an event caused by someone else. If you want more information or legal advice, check out more posts on our blog!