Post-traumatic psychiatric disorders: PTSD is not the only diagnosis

Presse Med. 2018 May;47(5):423-430. doi: 10.1016/j.lpm.2017.12.006. Epub 2018 Mar 24.


Traumatic events and their consequences are often hidden or minimised by patients for reasons linked to the post-traumatic stress disorder itself (inexpressibility, shame, depressive thoughts, fear of stigmatisation, etc.). Although post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) remains the most widely known disorder, chronic post-traumatic psychiatric disorders are many and varied. After a trauma, the practitioner has to check for the different clinical forms of post-traumatic psychological consequences: PTSD is not the only diagnosis. Based on our own clinical experience compared to the international literature, we think necessary to build a didactic classification describing chronic post-traumatic symptoms and syndromes. Post traumatic depressions and bereavement lead to high risk of suicidal crisis and self-harm behaviours. Re-experiencing are felt with anxiety, hyper arousal increases anxious reactivity, and avoidance strategies increase anticipatory anxiety, indicating post-traumatic anxiety disorders (agoraphobia, specific phobia, obsessive compulsive disorder, separation anxiety, social phobia). Characterising an often-severe clinical picture, the co-occurrence of post-traumatic and chronic psychotic symptoms is not unusual (post-traumatic schizophrenia, post-traumatic depression with mood-congruent psychotic features, non-schizophrenic post-traumatic psychotic disorder, and bipolar reaction to trauma). A physical injury occurring at the same time as a traumatic exposure increases the risk of developing post-traumatic stress disorder later which, in turn, afflicts the subjective perception of the physical health (development of somatoform and psychosomatic disorders, comorbidity with a post-concussion syndrome). The trauma may cause a rupture in the biography of a person, also in his/her internal physiological functioning as in his/her social activities (impacts of instinctive functions and behaviours, personality changes, and adjustment difficulties on professional and personal life). Although a nomenclature is necessary for semiological descriptions, a thorough analysis of the patient's general psychological functioning must also be conducted.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Comorbidity
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Emotions
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Disorders / classification
  • Mental Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Mental Disorders / epidemiology
  • Mental Disorders / etiology*
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / complications*
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / diagnosis*
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / epidemiology
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / psychology