What are distress symptoms in PTSD?

Traumatic distress consists of negative emotions experienced during or shortly after a traumatic event. Responses of fear, helplessness, and horror represent a subset of distress reactions that currently define trauma exposure in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM–5), along with life threat. It is unclear if traumatic distress affects the development or persistence of core symptoms across time. Core PTSD symptoms include intrusions, avoidance, hyperarousal, and negative thoughts and mood.

What is the evidence for distress in people with PTSD?

Moderate to high quality evidence found increased severity of PTSD symptoms was related to increased feelings of distress. There may be declines in distress over time, in particular before one-month compared to after one-month post-trauma.

August 2021

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Last updated at: 12:10 am, 8th October 2021
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