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Post traumatic stress disorder: undiagnosed cases in a tertiary inpatient setting

M van Zyl
PP Oosthuizen
S Seedat


Objective: Post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a common, debilitating anxiety disorder characterized by emotional and physical symptoms that may occur after exposure to a severely traumatic event. Since it occurs commonly as a comorbid diagnosis with other mood- and anxiety disorders, we postulated that this disorder may be under- diagnosed in therapeutic wards where anxiety and mood disorders are treated. The study thus sought to determine the prevalence of undiagnosed PTSD in an inpatient population, and to compare the demographic details and comorbid diagnoses of subjects with and without PTSD. Method: The Clinician-administered PTSD Scale for DSM-IV (CAPS) was administered to 40 subjects who were inpatients in a therapeutic ward of a large psychiatric hospital and who had never had a diagnosis of PTSD before. Results:16 (40%) subjects met the DSM-IV
criteria for PTSD. We did not find significant clinical differentiating factors between subjects with and without PTSD; however subjects with PTSD were more likely to use cannabis. Conclusions: PTSD remains undiagnosed in many patients admitted to therapeutic units.

Keywords: Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic; Diagnosis; Inpatients;

African Journal of Psychiatry Vol. 11 (2) 2008 pp. 119-122

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eISSN: 1994-8220