A person must have some if not all of these: at least one re-experiencing symptom, three avoidance symptoms, two detrimental changes in mood or cognition, and at least two hyperarousal symptoms for at least one month, in order to be diagnosed with PTSD. The individual's capacity to carry out daily tasks must be hampered by these symptoms.
During an evaluation by a psychologist or psychiatrist they will ask about your exposure to a traumatic event and the impact your symptoms are having on your everyday life, such as attending school or work, socializing, or completing important tasks. They will ask about your quality of life, your relationships, signs of depression or substance abuse, and thoughts of death or suicide. Specialists sometimes speak with spouses or partners, family members, and close friends. This helps them to obtain a complete picture of a person’s quality of life and how symptoms affect his or her everyday activities.
Didn't a psychologist already state that I have PTSD?
Well yes she did. Seeing as there is a very big difference between work related PTSD and not work related there were several hoops I had to go through. Without trying to sound too jaded here. As a police officer there are certain protocols and ways I had to follow. The first thing I heard when talking with the occupational physician was: that I might have seen a psychologist but that wasn't enough for the police to deem my supposed PTSD as work related. He specified that he would sign me up for a screening investigation by two psychologists employed by the police. They would be the ones to determine whether I have PTSD or not. And they would come up with a treatment plan. You can read more about this part here.
The screening investigation, whats that?
As mentioned in the header, in order to be diagnosed with PTSD, you have to satisfy certain symptoms. To get an unbiased opinion about their subject, in this case me. The screening investigation is conducted by 2 independent psychologists. They saw me seperately. Off course they asked different questions. I can tell you, reliving and relaying some of the worst things in your head just once is plenty. But afterwards they will discuss the subject and come to a unanimous conclussion. In my case, they used:
PCL-5 (PTSD CheckList for DSM-5, for post traumatic stressors)
BDI (Beck Depression Inventory; for depression)
BSI (Brief Symptom Inventory; multidimensional complaints)
CAPS-5 (Clinician Administered PTSD Scale; for PTSD)
That sounds like a lot of fancy words, but they actually make it easier for a psychologist to determine whether or not someone has PTSD or some other form of anxiety- or stress related disorder. I won't give you the results, but what I can tell you is, that I had 16 out of 22 symptoms on the Cap-5 scale. Afterwards they write a report. In which they too stated that I have PTSD, without a doubt. This report was sent to the occupational physician. And he would set the proper things in motion.
So, now I've had 3 individual psychologists all say I have PTSD. Several tests and scales had all concluded the same. Did this help? Was I getting better? Nope, I still felt stuck in an endless spiral of emotional rollercoasters and images better left unseen.
Having in writing that what you have is a disease, helps a bit with coping. You can tell yourself that what you're experiencing is not your fault. It still feels like it though. But I knew this already. It just got confirmed again by 2 new psychologists. Treatment and help was still a long way off. But at least I was one step closer now. Another good thing that came out of this was that the occupational physician apointed a PTSD Case manager to me. Think of this as a colleague experienced with PTSD, and someone who can handle all stuff relating to work. Also they try to help in those areas most often forgotten by the outside world. What happens to your finances when you are sick, what happens when you need extra care? Think of housekeeping, extra daycare for the kids. They also work on getting the recognition that the PTSD is work related. More about that in another story. They are the go to contacts for any and all contact with work.
The occupational physician placed me on a waiting list for treatment. And actually expedited my apointment a bit. I was going to see someone very soon. They mentioned EMDR treatment. And the many positive results achieved by it. They also mentioned that this treatment helps to temper the anxiety and panic attacks. It should at least take some of the sting out. I couldn't wait. What a relief that would be!
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