Archive Of Standardized Exam Questions: Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder


This page is dedicated to organizing various examples of standardized exam questions whose answer is post-traumatic stress disorder. While this may seem a odd practice, it is useful to see multiple examples of how post-traumatic stress disorder will be characterized on standardized exams (namely the boards and the shelf exams). This page is not meant to be used as a tradition question bank (as all of the answers will be the same), however seeing the classic “test” characterization for a disease is quite valuable.


Question # 1

A 30 year old man comes to the clinic due to poor sleep and poor concentration during the day at work. He states that he never had trouble sleeping in the past, but since returning from his last tour of duty in the military (7 months ago) he has had difficulty falling and staying asleep. He admits to having frequent nightmares, and he is awaken in a state of panic while dripping with sweat and being short of breath. During the day, he feels tired and distracted by unusual experiences. He says “I am worried I have gone bonkers because I see images of explosions and can hear my friend’s voice calling me for help. I also keep checking the doors of my apartment just in case someone is trying to break into the house”. Over the past several months, the patient has started drinking more alcohol (an increase from 2 to 4 drinks a night) to help him fall sleep. He takes ibuprofen for knee and back pain. He has no other medical problems. He has a family history of hypertension, colon cancer, and bipolar disorder. His temperature is 98.5 °C, blood pressure si 130/75 mm Hg, pulse is 84/min, and respirations are 17/min. His physical exam is unremarkable. His mental status shows a tense and restless man who jumps at the sound of someone knocking loudly at the door, and whose eyes frequently scan around the room. What is the most likely diagnosis?

Question # 2

A 21 year old college student comes to the campus health center. She explains that she was sexually assaulted after a night out about 6 weeks ago. The patient fights through tears to describe the details of the incident, and admits that she did not report the event to police because she was concerned that her parents would have her leave school if the found out. She recently told the story to a close friend, who suggested that she seek medical care. The patient is now scared ate she may be pregnant, or that she could have a sexually transmitted disease. Since the assault, she has been having recurrent nightmares of the incident, and takes the long route to class to avoid walking past the man’s apartment where she was raped. It take the patient over an hour to fall asleep at night, and she is scared of being alone. She also explains that it is now very difficult to pay attention in class, and would rather not go anymore, even though she used to very much enjoy school in the past. What is this patient’s most likely diagnosis?

Question # 3

A 30 year old male comes to the office because his girlfriend is concerned about his health. he explains that he has severe insomnia, but “physically I am ok”. His girlfriend is worried that he has had a difficult time adjusting to civilian life after returning from military duty. She explains that he used to be so “upbeat and cheery, but now he seems to be really on edge, very tense, detached, and numb to emotions”. The patient has difficulty falling asleep at night because he sees the awful scene of his friend being killed by stepping on a landmine. During the daytime he is very sensitive to loud noises such as car horns or a glass shattering. The patient explains that “sometimes I feel as though I am back in combat, and have to look for cover”. His vital sings and physical exam are within normal limits. Mental status exam reveals a anxious mood and a blunted affect. What is the likely diagnosis?


Page Updated: 09.13.2016