Posttraumatic Stress Disorder: Introduction | Definition, Clinical Description, and Diagnosis | Epidemiology and Risk Factors | Comorbidity | Etiology | Prevention | Course and Prognosis | Clinical Evaluation | Treatment | Research Directions | Summary Points | References
Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) was first
introduced into the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual
of Mental Disorders (DSM) in 1980, making it one
of the more recently accepted psychiatric disorders. PTSD is one
of the few DSM diagnoses to have a recognizable etiologic agent,
in that it must develop in direct response to a severe (sudden,
terrifying, or shocking) life event (American Psychiatric Association 2000). Since the introduction of PTSD into DSM-III (American Psychiatric Association 1980), the disorder has been documented
in children exposed to traumas such as domestic violence, natural
disasters, medical trauma, war, terrorism, and community violence. Much
has been learned about the developmental manifestations of PTSD
and how challenging it is to evaluate this disorder in children.
Progress has been made in identifying effective treatments for this
disorder, but much remains unknown.