Rarely are there objective and medically acceptable testing methods that can scientifically verify the presence of a mental illness. That may have changed based on new research out of the University of Minnesota and the Minnesota VA Medical Center. Hundreds of thousands of new cases of PTSD are being diagnosed as a result of current military conflicts in the middle east, but now, magnetoencephalography (MEG), a brain imaging method, could be used to verify PTSD. They scanned the brains of 74 U.S. veterans with PTSD, and 250 civilians without the disorder, and say that by spotting specific brain biomarkers, they managed to accurately diagnose PTSD sufferers with 90 percent accuracy. The MEG can accurately measure electrical activity in the brain and at least preliminarily there seems to be reason to believe that it could be relied upon to accurately diagnose PTSD. MEGs can record brain signals very quickly compared to a CT scan or MRI. The VA has been desperate to get a handle on the number of new PTSD cases since the disease has quickly inundated the disability system with appeals, and in certain cases significant compensation to Veterans.
Post script: Based on further review it would seem that these recent studies may not be the best tool for PTSD diagnosis, but rather could be useful for finding differences between people with PTSD and those that don’t. A blog post describes the difference and chalks up the media reports to inaccuracies in reporting on mental illnesses which is quite common. Check it out on mindhacks.