Criteria For Complex PTSD

Criteria For Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

From: Chapter 6: Diagnosing and Identifying the Need for Trauma Treatment, in First stage trauma treatment: A guide for mental health professionals working with women (© CAMH 2003)

The diagnostic construct of complex PTSD or DESNOS is not currently recognized in the DSM-IV as a freestanding diagnosis, but is instead presented as associated features of PTSD. Complex PTSD is expected to be included in the next edition of the diagnostic guidebook, the DSM-V. However, it is unclear if it will be given the name complex PTSD or DESNOS. Currently, both terms are referred to interchangeably in the clinical literature in this area.

Simple post-traumatic stress consists of changes to three areas of functioning, while complex post-traumatic stress consists of changes to six domains of functioning. The diagnostic criteria for determining the presence of complex post-traumatic stress entails that a number of specific changes (outlined below) are present in each of the six domains of functioning.

Diagnostic criteria for complex post-traumatic stress responses
(I) Alteration in Regulation of Affect and Impulses
(A and one of B to F required)

  • affect regulation
  • modulation of anger
  • self-destructive behaviour
  • suicidal preoccupation
  • difficulty modulating sexual involvement
  • excessive risk-taking

(II) Alterations in Attention or Consciousness
(A or B required)

  • amnesia
  • transient dissociative episodes and depersonalization

(III) Alterations in Self-Perception
(Two of A to F required)

  • ineffectiveness
  • permanent damage
  • guilt and responsibility
  • shame
  • nobody can understand
  • minimizing

(IV) Alterations in Relations with Others
(One of A to C required)

  • inability to trust
  • revictimization
  • victimizing others

(V) Somatization
(Two of A to E required)

  • problems with the digestive system
  • chronic pain
  • cardiopulmonary symptoms
  • conversion symptoms
  • sexual symptoms

(VI) Alterations in Systems of Meaning
(A or B required)

  • despair and hopelessness
  • loss of previously sustaining beliefs

Luxenberg, Spinazzola, van der Kolk. Reprinted with permission from The Hatherleigh Company, Ltd., New York.www.hatherleigh.com, 1-800-367-2550. © 2001

This article has been copied from http://knowledgex.camh.net/amhspecialists/specialized_treatment/trauma_treatment/first_stage_trauma/FirstStageTT_ch6/Pages/criteria_complex_ptsd.aspx to provide people with information on complex PTSD diagnostic criteria. For more information please check out the link above and read their article on how that diagnosis is made.

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