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Screening and diagnostic considerations in childhood post-traumatic stress disorder

Author(s): Leigh Luella van den Heuvel , Soraya Seedat

Post-traumatic stress disorder is a common disorder across the lifespan. However, its presentation and symptom expression differs according to developmental stage. In this review, we focus on diagnostic aspects that are unique to children and adolescents and discuss some of the complexities involved in assessment and diagnosis. We briefly discuss the diagnostic criteria and changes that have been made in the DSM-5. We discuss clinical approaches used in diagnosis as well as current practice guidelines. We provide an overview of the diagnostic and screening instruments available to assess post-traumatic stress disorder in children and adolescents. Furthermore, we discuss tools for evaluating other unique features such as dysregulation symptoms, coping strategies and resilience. Finally, we consider the practical applications of screening and diagnostic instruments and highlight future directions.


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