Health Services Research & Development

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Knowles KA, Sripada RK, Defever M, Rauch SAM. Comorbid mood and anxiety disorders and severity of posttraumatic stress disorder symptoms in treatment-seeking veterans. Psychological trauma : theory, research, practice and policy. 2019 May 1; 11(4):451-458.
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Abstract: OBJECTIVE: Comorbidity is the rule and not the exception among veterans with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Examining comorbidities in a veteran population allows us to better understand veterans' symptoms and recognize when mental health treatment may need to be tailored to other co-occurring issues. This article evaluates comorbid mood and anxiety disorders and PTSD symptom severity in a large sample of veterans from multiple eras of service, including the recent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. METHOD: The current study used data from veterans who sought treatment for PTSD at a VA PTSD Clinical Team from 2005 to 2013. Veterans were assessed for PTSD, mood, and anxiety disorders using a structured clinical interview and completed self-report symptom measures as part of the PTSD clinic intake procedure. A total of 2,460 veterans were evaluated, and 867 met diagnostic criteria for PTSD. RESULTS: Veterans with PTSD were significantly more likely than those without PTSD to be diagnosed with social anxiety disorder and obsessive-compulsive disorder, but significantly less likely to be diagnosed with depression. In addition, veterans who had at least one comorbid diagnosis in addition to PTSD reported significantly higher PTSD symptom severity than veterans with PTSD alone. PTSD symptom severity also varied by era of service. CONCLUSION: These results suggest that among veterans seeking treatment for PTSD, comorbid mood and anxiety disorders may be associated with greater severity of PTSD symptoms. Future work is needed to determine the impact of specific comorbidities on trauma-focused treatment outcomes. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2019 APA, all rights reserved).