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Ask Dr. Kaushik Your Own Question
Dr. Kaushik
Dr. Kaushik, Psychiatrist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 4635
Experience:  MD Psychiatry
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Diagnosis of PTSD, the DSM 5 requires "exposure to actual

Customer Question

For a diagnosis of PTSD, the DSM 5 requires "exposure to actual or threatened death, serious injury, or sexual violence"
My question is can someone who is in a "non-threatening" situation, but perceives it as one, meet that criteria for PTSD?
For example, if someone is in a military training exercise in which there is no actual threat of of life/injury threat, but that person perceives it as one in his mind (fears for life), can that meet PTSD criteria?
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  Dr. Kaushik replied 2 years ago.
Greetings.Welcome to the site.I am a psychiatrist and i believe i can help you with your query.Well, the answer is NO, that cannot amount to be categorized as PTSD, because the diagnosis of Post Traumatic Disorder is not person specific but situation specific, meaning that there needs to be presence of a life threatening or severely life altering situation which is of high gravity and magnitude so much so that it will have affected any person who has to face it. So here if the person in question considers a non threatening situation as something extremely hazardous and life threatening when others do not share his sentiments or fear on the same, then this condition of the person is more likely to be a type of Phobia of that particular situation. I hope this helps to clarify things.,Wish you all the best.Please kindly leave a Positive rating if you are satisfied with the answer.Regards
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Thank youCustomer I am just a little confused when you say that PTSD is not "person specific". Don't specific events affect everyone differently. For example, two people may experience the same event and what may be traumatic to one may not be traumatic to someone else? One person may end up with PTSD and the other not affected at all?

Another example, if someone was in a minor car accident... feared for their life in the moment but objectively looking from the outside there was never really a serious threat of life or injury... PTSD could not be diagnosed based on your answer, right?

Thanks again!

Expert:  Dr. Kaushik replied 2 years ago.
Well, you see i was trying to put forth the fact that PTSD, true to its name happens to a person when he/ she faces an unexpected, unprecedented emotional or physical trauma which may or may not be life threatening but the magnitude of the event is so high that it shocks the person to the core resulting which the person becomes fearful and tend to avoid going even near to that sort of predicament. Now, such type of events or situations that lead to PTSD include near fatal accidents, natural disasters such as earthquakes, tsunami, etc, terrorist attacks, rape/ sexual assaults, etc. So you see these events / situations which cause PTSD will most likely affect any one and all who is caught up in such an unfortunate case scenario and therefore PTSD diagnosis cannot be based alone on the individual's own perception, beliefs and sensibilities. I will explain to you by taking the example which you have mentioned above, you see a person who is involved in a Minor accident may not realize that the accident is only minor while he/ she is experiencing it, but from an observer's perspective who has a better view and clear and calm judgment of the situation, the accident may just come across as trivial or minor. So such a person when introspects and re-evaluates the whole incident may most likely realize that it was a trivial and not a life threatening accident and hence will not develop any features of PTSD. But, if the same person after knowing about all of this, still believes that the accident was life threatening and fears touching his vehicle or going on the road or taking the same route where the accident happened, or shuns away even when a mere mention of the accident is made, then this will imply that the person has developed Phobia but it will not still qualify for PTSD, since the cause of this disorder that is the trauma to which the person is exposed to should be extraordinary and not common and one which can be expected in a daily life basis.I hope this makes the concept more clear.Wish you all the best.Regards