Epigenetics of Stress and Stress Disorders - Chapter 2: Posttraumatic stress disorder: Diagnosis, measurement, and assessment

Elsevier, Epigenetics of Stress and Stress Disorders Volume 31 in Translational Epigenetics 2022, Pages 19-26
Bhargav Patel and Nagy A. Youssef

This chapter discussed the diagnosis of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) according to the DSM-5. Central to the diagnosis of PTSD is exposure to trauma, which is necessary (but not sufficient) for diagnosis. The characteristic features of PTSD include intrusive symptoms such as nightmares or flashbacks, avoidance behaviors, symptoms of hyperarousal and reactivity, and disturbances of mood and cognition. Differential diagnoses of PTSD to rule out are explored. Lastly, the chapter discusses the two most commonly used tools that assist in the diagnosis of PTSD: PTSD Checklist for DSM-5 (PCL-5) and Clinician-Administered PTSD Scale 5 (CAPS-5). The PCL-5 is much briefer and is most used to screen for PTSD and monitor treatment response, while the CAPS-5 is a gold standard for establishing a diagnosis for PTSD. Both are helpful research tools or in clinical care. However, in clinical care, PCL-5 is more commonly used than CAPS-5 due to its brevity, which renders it more practical clinically.