PTSD diagnosis could get easier following the upcoming annual meeting of the American Psychiatric Association where the group’s fifth edition of its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM-5) is slated to be released in San Francisco.
Essentially the new criteria make it easier to meet the criteria for PTSD, by eliminating so called Criterion A-2, and by adding symptoms that make a PTSD diagnosis more likely. Criterion A-2 is the requirement that people experience extreme fear, helplessness and horror at the time of a traumatic incident.
This could be a good change for veterans. When the bomb goes off or they are shot at, most well-trained service members do not experience helplessness or horror. They are well-trained: they drag their wounded buddies to safety, lay down suppressing fire, and continue with the mission. But they still may have intrusive memories: seeing their friend’s heads blown off, or the dead children in the vicinity of the bomb blast. In the past, such soldiers did not strictly meet the criteria for PTSD, so they might get a related diagnosis like anxiety disorder, not otherwise specified (NOS).
It is yet to be seen if the VA will adopt these new changes or if they will effect the VA disability system.