Experts Recommend Broadening the Criteria of Traumatic Experience

By Staff Writer

Following a traumatic experience, it is difficult for doctors to know who is at the greatest risk of developing future psychological problems. This severely limits their ability to effectively prevent and treat post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

A recent review of previous studies into the psychological effects of trauma indicates that many doctors may be looking at the condition the wrong way, which could explain part of the reason for the current lack of effective diagnostic measures.

The study’s authors say that both the patient’s subjective perception of the traumatic event and objective factors play roles in determining whether or not someone will develop PTSD. Current efforts to define what constitutes a traumatic experience may leave out the individual factor.

They said that a traumatic experience should instead be defined more broadly as an individual’s interaction with their environment. This would take into account the unique factors that may be at the heart of why some people develop PTSD following traumatic experiences and others do not.

This could greatly improve doctors’ ability to diagnose and treat the condition, the authors concluded.