Duhaime's Law Dictionary

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Definition:

A mental disorder that results from an extreme traumatic stress.

Also spelled posttraumatic stress disorder and abbreviated as PTSD.

According to the American Psychiatric Association's 2000 edition of the DSM-IV Manual of Mental Disorders, PTSD becomes a mental disorder only if it meets these six criteria:

  • Exposure to an extremely stressful traumatic event that involves personal experience with actual or threatened death or serious injury;
  • A response of fear, helplessness or horror;
  • Repeated re-experiencing of the event;
  • "Persistent symptoms of increased arousal";
  • Symptoms last for at least 30 days; and
  • Clinically significant impairment in important areas of functioning (eg. social or occupational).

In Cramb v Canada, Justice Kelen referred to the DSM-IV manual in adopting these examples of events which may cause PTSD:

"Military combat; violent personal assault (sexual assault, physical attack, robbery, mugging); being kidnapped; being taken hostage; a terrorist attack; torture; incarceration as a prisoner of war or in a concentration camp; being required to exhume a dead body or body parts; natural or man-made disasters; severe automobile accidents, of a nature which meets the above-noted criteria or equivalent...."


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