Letter to the Editor
Accuracy Needed
Psychiatric News
Volume 36 Number 23 page 41-41

I’ve just read the Residents’ Forum in the October 19 issue by Dr. Craig B.H. Surman, titled "Training During Terror and Trauma."

His column moved me to pick up pen to comment that the diagnostic criteria for posttraumatic stress disorder are being misused. The news media, including trained physicians who were interviewed, continually referred to those at ground zero as suffering from "posttraumatic stress disorder." Much to my chagrin, these news reports were well within 30 days of the terrorist attacks, thus requiring a diagnosis of acute stress disorder, versus posttraumatic stress disorder.

I think that in light of the long-range situation that we are facing in this country with regard to potentially more terrorist attacks, a distinction needs to be made (perhaps an article needs to be done) explaining the difference between posttraumatic stress and an acute stress reaction or disorder. This is certainly something that many of us, unfortunately, will be handling in our practices.

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