Under Construction: Defining PTSD

From the annual meeting of the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies

Although no one knows what shape the DSM-V will take when it’s formally released in May 2012, it’s likely that the diagnostic categories of psychiatric disorders will be changed from the DSM-IV edition to better reflect the current scientific knowledge.

Just where PTSD will fit in the overall classification was a subject of great debate among members of the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies, which devoted a special track to the subject at this meeting.

A myriad of questions will need to be answered in the coming years: is PTSD an anxiety disorder, a stress-related fear circuitry disorder or an internalizing or externalizing disorder? How will the DSM-V address cross-cultural considerations, issues of timing in the emergence of symptoms, and – last but not least – how will partial PTSD be defined?

DSM-V work groups began meeting in late 2007 and evidence continues to be evaluated. But in a quick poll taken at the overflow session, just 3 members said PTSD should continue to be classified as an anxiety disorder, while the remaining crowd of at least 200 attendees raised their hands in support of PTSD being included in a separate category of event- or trauma-related psychiatric disorders.

—Patrice Wendling

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Filed under Family Medicine, Internal Medicine, Neurology and Neurological Surgery, Practice Trends, Psychiatry

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