Date of Degree

9-2018

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph.D.

Program

Psychology

Advisor

Eric Fertuck

Advisor

Denise Hien

Committee Members

Lesia Ruglass

Teresa Lopez-Castro

Deidre Anglin

Subject Categories

Clinical Psychology

Keywords

PTSD, Subtreshold PTSD, Veterans, Depression, Anger, Aggression

Abstract

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) represents the upper end of a stress-response continuum to traumatic events, rather than a discrete pathological syndrome (Ruscio, et al., 2002). Individuals with PTSD report higher levels of anxiety, depression, anger, aggression, and adjustment difficulties compared to non-traumatized individuals (Ginzburg, Ein-Dor, & Soloman, 2009; Thompson et al, 2011; Novaco and Chemtob, 2002; Kotler et al, 2001; Orth & Wieland, 2006). Subthreshold PTSD represents a less severe range on the stress-response continuum and these individuals may experience similar rates of symptoms of anger, aggression, and depression as those with full-PTSD (Jakupcak, et al., 2007; Mylle & Maes, 2004). Consequently, individuals with subthreshold PTSD are often overlooked in research studies, despite significant clinical factors associated with it that may affect overall functioning and recovery from trauma exposure. Additionally, men and women with PTSD report differing levels of aggressive and depressive symptoms than non-trauma exposed individuals. To help explain these findings, emotion regulation has been suggested to underpin the expression of these associated emotions and behaviors in trauma-exposed individuals, including anxiety, aggression, anger, and depression (Crevier et al., 2014). Using a cross-sectional study design, the present study measured for possible difference in traumatic stress symptom severity groups (i.e. full-PTDS, subthreshold PTSD and no-PTDS) on self-report measures of anger, aggression, and depression in military veterans. This study supported other research studies indicating differences in the relationship between traumatic stress symptom severity and symptoms of anger, aggression, in depression in military service members. Contrary to research hypotheses, no gender differences were found in the associations between trauma severity and levels of anger, aggressive behaviors, and depression in military service members. Additionally, emotion regulation was not found to moderate the relationship between trauma severity and levels of aggression and depression in military service members. This study supports existing research by measuring the association between types of trauma severity and associated symptoms of distress, supporting additional treatment services for those individuals with subthreshold PTSD. This study contributes to existing PTSD research regarding gender differences in traumatic stress response groups, especially for subthreshold PTSD population. This study also expands on PTSD research by regarding the possible effects of emotion dysregulation on symptoms of aggression, and depression on trauma severity in veterans.

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