The information below includes a limited overview of the disorder based on the DSM-5 Diagnostic Criteria. Only a licensed therapist can provide a diagnosis.

Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Includes symptoms relating to the exposure of an event (or threatened event) that was life threatening, sexually violent, or involved serious injury.

  • Exposure to an event (or threatened event) that was life threatening, sexually violent, or involved serious injury. This exposure may be directly experiencing the event, witnessing the event occur, or even learning of the event that occurred to a family member or friend. In some cases, it may include repetitive or extreme exposure to unwanted details of the traumatic event (i.e. first responders to a tragic accident).

  • Intrusive Symptoms may include involuntary intrusive memories, distressing dreams, flashbacks, physiological reactions to reminders of the event, etc.

  • Avoidance criteria include avoiding (or attempting to avoid) distressing memories or feelings about the traumatic event, and avoiding other reminders of the event, such as people, places, objects, etc.

  • Cognitive issues may include the inability to remember important details of the traumatic event, negative beliefs about oneself, negative emotions such as guilt, shame, self-blame, fear and horror, lack of interest in hobbies, feelings of isolation from others, inability to experience positive emotions.

  • Marked alterations (2 or more of the following): irritable, angry outbursts, self-destructive behavior, easily startled, inability to concentrate, changes in sleep patterns.

If these symptoms occur and last less than one month following the traumatic event, you may have Acute Stress Disorder

Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD)

Characterized by underdeveloped attachment between the child and caregiver.

  • Emotionally withdrawn behavior toward caregiver(s). Examples: Child typically does not seek or respond to comfort when in distress.

  • Social and emotional issues may include lack of emotional responsiveness to others, unexplained irritability, sadness, fear, etc.

  • Child has experienced insufficient care and support. Examples: Caregivers deprive child of basic emotional needs for comfort, affection, etc. Repeated changes of primary caregivers – limiting ability to form attachments. Being raised in unusual settings with low ratio of caregiving support (i.e. institutions).

  • Lack of care is presumed to be the cause of withdrawn behavior from caregivers.

Adjustment Disorder

Emotional and behavioral issues in response to an event (i.e. ending a relationship)

  • Emotional and behavioral symptoms occur within 3 months of the stressor.

  • Severe distress unproportional to the event / stressor.

  • May experience social functioning and/or work-related issues.

  • Disturbance does not meet any other diagnosis and does not reflect normal grief.

  • Adjustment disorders are associated with an increased risk in suicide.

  • Begins within 3 months of stressor, and lasts no more than 6 months.


American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.).

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