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Mental Health Center

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Assessing PTSD - Topic Overview

There is no medical test that can tell whether you have post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Your doctor will ask you questions to find out whether you have it, what traumatic event may have caused it, and how severe your symptoms are.

Your doctor may ask about:

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  • The event that is causing your symptoms.
  • Traumatic events in your past, including those that happened when you were a child. These may include sexual assault or physical abuse.
  • Military service, especially if you have been in combat.
  • Symptoms you may have. These include reliving the event, avoiding things that make you think about the event, feeling numb, or always being alert to danger. Your doctor also will ask if these symptoms disrupt your life.
  • Any legal issues having to do with the traumatic event.
  • Any other mental or emotional health conditions you may have, such as depression.
  • Whether anyone in your family has had a mental health condition.
  • Whether you have any suicidal thoughts or thoughts of harming others.

Your doctor may want your spouse, your partner, or a close family member to come with you. This person can help your doctor understand what you've been going through. Being with someone you trust helps you relax.

Your doctor may ask you to fill out questionnaires about your mental health. He or she may give you a physical exam and lab tests such as blood and urine tests. These can help rule out other things that could be causing your symptoms.

Problems that have symptoms similar to PTSD include:

    WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

    Last Updated: November 14, 2014
    This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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