CPTSD: A new diagnostic category in post-traumatic stress disorder


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Summary: Researchers provide a new summary of symptoms for the diagnosis of CPTS, a sibling disorder of PTSD recently officially recognized by the WHO. CPTSD usually occurs after prolonged exposure to traumatic experiences such as abuse, torture, or domestic violence.

Source: University of Zurich

The World Health Organization (WHO) recently listed a new sibling diagnosis for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) called complex post-traumatic stress disorder (CPTSD).

An international team including the University of Zurich has now summarized the symptoms of the long-awaited new diagnosis and published guidelines for clinical evaluation and treatment.

One of the most well-known responses to trauma is post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD. People affected by this mental disorder typically suffer from intrusive memories or flashbacks that can overwhelm them.

However, international experts have been aware for decades that some trauma victims or survivors exhibit a broader pattern of psychological changes, most commonly after prolonged or repetitive events — such as exposure to war, sexual abuse, domestic violence, or torture — now referred to as CPTSD .

Extended criteria

Many experts are therefore calling for an adjustment of the diagnostic requirements for PTSD. Earlier this year, the WHO released a new version of its International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11). The updated ICD now includes a new diagnosis for complex post-traumatic stress disorder (complex PTSD).

In addition to the previous symptoms of PTSD, which include flashbacks, nightmares, avoidance, social withdrawal and hypervigilance, new symptoms – such as self-organization disorders – have been added.

Key features of self-organization disorder include excessive or heightened emotional responses, feelings of worthlessness, and persistent difficulty in maintaining relationships and feeling close to others.

An international team with the participation of the UZH has now published a study The lancet detail how to diagnose complex PTSD based on a patient’s symptoms.

Many experts are therefore calling for an adjustment of the diagnostic requirements for PTSD. The image is in the public domain

The study describes the possible difficulties, the peculiarities of the disease in children and adolescents and the diagnostic differences that have to be made to closely related mental illnesses such as major depression, bipolar disorder, psychosis or personality disorders.

Exact description of diagnosis and therapy

“We are working on how the CPTSD diagnosis can be made, for example, in routine situations in emergency medical facilities and in regions with underdeveloped health systems,” says lead author Andreas Maercker, Professor of Psychopathology and Clinical Intervention at the University of Zurich.

The study captures the latest findings on biopsychosocial relationships using systematic selection criteria. Researchers also analyzed the evidence base for all available therapeutic studies and developed guidelines for the management of CPTSD.

“This is particularly important as not all countries use the WHO disease classification. Some have adopted the DSM-5 classification published by the American Psychiatric Association, which currently does not include a diagnosis of complex PTSD,” Maercker emphasizes the importance of her study.

About this news from CPTSD research

Author: press office
Source: University of Zurich
Contact: Press Office – University of Zurich
Picture: The image is in the public domain

Original research: Closed access.
“Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder” by Andreas Maercker et al. The lancet

See also

This shows a woman holding a ball labeled NFT


Complex post-traumatic stress disorder

Complex post-traumatic stress disorder (complex PTSD) is a serious mental disorder that occurs in response to traumatic life events.

Complex PTSD is characterized by three key post-traumatic symptom clusters, along with chronic and pervasive disorders of emotion regulation, identity, and relationships. Complex PTSD has been included as a new diagnosis in the ICD-11.

Individuals with complex PTSD typically experience persistent or multiple trauma, such as: B. Child abuse and domestic or community violence.

The disorder has a prevalence of 1-8% in the population and a prevalence of up to 50% in psychiatric settings.

Advances in the diagnosis, assessment and differentiation of post-traumatic stress disorder and borderline personality disorder are reported, as is the assessment and treatment of children and adolescents.

Studies recommend multicomponent therapies, beginning with a focus on safety, psychoeducation, and patient-provider collaboration, and treatment components that include self-regulatory strategies and trauma-focused interventions.

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