What are the two psychiatric diagnosis applied to trauma victims?

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Charles J. Sophy, MD
Adolescent Medicine
Two psychiatric diagnoses commonly applied to trauma victims are post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and borderline personality disorder (BPD). The focus of PTSD is on the traumatic events and their effects rather than on problems originating within the person.

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is helpful in normalizing the flashbacks, hyper vigilance, difficulties in concentrating, and other problems that so many victims of violence experience. 

The incidence of sexual and nonsexual physical assault of women, as well as of physical and sexual abuse of children, is disturbingly high, leaving many women and children emotionally traumatized. Two psychiatric diagnoses commonly applied to trauma victims are post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and borderline personality disorder (BPD). The focus of PTSD is on the traumatic events and their effects rather than on problems originating within the person.

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is helpful in normalizing the flashbacks, hyper vigilance, difficulties in concentrating, and other problems that so many victims of violence experience. Borderline personality disorder is a label commonly applied to women who have endured extreme, usually ongoing, physical or emotional abuse or neglect. It is rarely used as a diagnosis for men. This diagnosis is often used to describe women who have intense needs for help and support, whom mental health workers consider to be bothersome and untreatable. Instead of applying the stigmatizing borderline personality disorder (BPD) label, it is more helpful to focus on healing from the effects of abuse and neglect and to try to understand how that mistreatment affects fears, longings, and the ability to monitor and control feelings.

When a person has been a victim of violence, labeling her "sick" can imply that the problem comes from within her; and it shifts the focus away from the perpetrator of the violence and the society that has failed so miserably to reduce such violence.

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