Characterization of depression in war-related posttraumatic stress disorder

Steven M. Southwick, Rachel Yehuda, Earl L. Giller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

67 Scopus citations

Abstract

Objective: Many patients with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) have symptoms of depression, but operationalized psychological constructs related to depression have not been used extensively in characterizing affective symptoms of PTSD. The authors' objective is to better characterize the affective component of PTSD. Method: The subjects were 45 male psychiatric inpatients at a Veterans Administration medical center; 28 met DSM-III-R criteria for PTSD and 17 met Research Diagnostic Criteria (RDC) for major depressive disorder. All of the subjects with PTSD were Vietnam veterans. The 21-item Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression was used to assess state measures of symptom severity, and the Depressive Experiences Questionnaire was used to measure dimensions of dependency, selfcriticism, and self-efficacy. Results: The mean total Hamilton scale score of the patients with PTSD was nonsignificantly higher than that of the patients with major depressive disorder; patients with PTSD had higher scores on almost all individual Hamilton symptoms, particularly insomnia, somatic anxiety, and diurnal variation. Patients with PTSD had significantly higher scores on the self-criticism scale but not on the dependency and self-efficacy scales of the Depressive Experiences Questionnaire. The scores of patients with PTSD on the dependency and self-criticism scales were negatively correlated. No significant differences between patients with PTSD with and without concurrent major depressive disorder were observed. Conclusions: Characterization of such depressive dimensions of PTSD as dependency and self-criticism may have important clinical implications.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)179-183
Number of pages5
JournalAmerican Journal of Psychiatry
Volume148
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1991
Externally publishedYes

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