DSM-5 Diagnostic Criteria for
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Criterion A: Exposure to death, threatened death, serious injury, or sexual violence in one (or more) of the following way(s):

Direct experience of the trauma

Witnessing firsthand the trauma

Learning a relative or close friend was exposed to a trauma

Repeated or extreme exposure to aversive details of the trauma, typically experienced by first responders, medics, police officers, etc.

Criterion B: Presence of one (or more) intrusive symptoms associated with the traumatic event(s) after the event(s) occurred:

Recurrent distressing memories

Recurring nightmares

Flashbacks, or disassociative reactions in which the person feels the trauma repeating

Intense or prolonged psychological distress in the face of reminders

Physical reactions in the face of reminders

Criterion C: Avoidance of stimuli associated with the trauma, as evidenced by one or more of the following:

Avoidance of distressing memories and thoughts about the trauma

Avoidance of distressing external reminders of the trauma, like people, places, conversations, and activities

Criterion D: Negative alterations to mood and cognition, as evidenced by two (or more) of the following:

Inability to remember important aspects of the trauma

Exaggerated negative thoughts about oneself, others, or the world

Blaming oneself or others for the trauma

Persistence negative emotional state, like fear, horror, anger, guilt, or shame

Diminished interest in activities

Feelings of detachment or estrangement from others

Inability to experience positive emotions

Criterion E: Alterations in arousal and reactivity, as evidenced by two or more of the following:

Irritability and angry outbursts with little or no provocation

Reckless and self-destructive behavior


Exaggerated startle response

Problems with concentration

Difficulty sleeping

Criterion F: Duration of the disturbance is more than 1 month.

Criterion G: The disturbance causes significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, and other important areas of functioning.

Criterion H: Symptoms are not due to medication, substance use, or another medical condition.

Two specifications are part of this diagnostic criteria, too, and are summarized as follows:

Dissociative Specification: In addition to meeting the criteria for PTSD, the person experiences high levels of either of the following in reaction to trauma-related stimuli:

Depersonalization. Experience of being detached from one’s self or body, as if one were in a dream.

Derealization. Experience of unreality, like the world were unreal, dreamlike, distant, or distorted.

Delayed Specification. Full diagnostic criteria are not met until at least six months after the traumatic event(s), although the onset of symptoms may be immediate.