American Psychiatric Association rejects PTSD name change

By Trahern Jones, News21

The American Psychiatric Association will not change the name of post-traumatic stress disorder in the latest edition of the physicians’ desk reference on mental disorders.

The organization explained its reasoning in a fact sheet released along with the new Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) in May.

“Certain military leaders, both active and retired, believe the word ‘disorder’ makes many soldiers who are experiencing PTSD symptoms reluctant to ask for help,” according to the fact sheet. “They have urged a change to rename the disorder post-traumatic stress injury, a description that they say is more in line with the language of troops and would reduce stigma.”

An APA task force ultimately ruled against such a change saying that “injury” is too vague for a medical diagnosis.

Moreover, the APA believes that the stigma surrounding PTSD may have little to do with naming conventions.

“Others believe it is the military environment that needs to change, not the name of the disorder, so that mental health care is more accessible and soldiers are encouraged to seek it in a timely fashion,” according to the fact sheet.

The new edition of the DSM also will rearrange the symptoms individuals must experience to be diagnosed as having the disorder. The previous DSM only required three symptom clusters to be identified. The latest edition requires four.

APA removed wording regarding the individual’s experience of “intense fear, helplessness or horror,” because it did not have “utility in predicting the onset of PTSD.”

The condition was moved from “anxiety disorders” to a new chapter on “Trauma- and Stress-or-Related Disorders,” according to the fact sheet.

PTSD continues to be defined by an individual’s exposure to trauma, such as by experiencing a traumatic event, witnessing it, or learning that it has occurred to a close family member or friend.