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Untangling the psychiatric comorbidity of posttraumatic stress disorder in a sample of flood survivo

15 Aug
Untangling the psychiatric comorbidity of posttraumatic stress disorder in a sample of flood survivors.
A team of social work investigators from the George Warren Brown School at Washington University in St. Louis examined multiple explanations for the high rates of psychiatric problems that are seen along with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), by interviewing and testing a sample of 162 St. Louis area survivors of the 1993 Great Midwest Floods. Thirty-five subjects (23%) met criteria for PTSD related to the flood. PTSD was frequently accompanied by (“comorbid with” in the jargon) other disorders. Seventeen subjects (10%) developed a new, non-PTSD psychiatric disorder after the flood, and indeed, new non-PTSD disorders were rare in the absence of PTSD symptoms. Though prior psychiatric history was predictive of developing PTSD, social vulnerability did not seem to play a role. Thus, support was found for a model in which PTSD contributes to the development of other disorders following trauma, but no evidence was found to suggest that comorbid disorders develop independently of PTSD following trauma, or that comorbidity was due to symptom overlap among disorders. The lack of support for models in which psychosocial resources mediate the effect of psychiatric history on the development of PTSD indirectly confirms the physiological basis of the disorder.

Citation: McMillen C, North C, Mosley M, Smith E. Untangling the psychiatric comorbidity of posttraumatic stress disorder in a sample of flood survivors. Comprehensive Psychiatry, 2002. Nov-Dec;43(6): pp.478-85.
Belleruth Naparstek

Psychotherapist, author and guided imagery pioneer Belleruth Naparstek is the creator of the popular Health Journeys guided imagery audio series. Her latest book on imagery and posttraumatic stress, Invisible Heroes: Survivors of Trauma and How They Heal (Bantam Dell), won the Spirituality & Health Top 50 Books Award