The Structure of Distress Following Trauma: Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, Major Depressive Disorder, and Generalized Anxiety Disorder


The current report used confirmatory factor analysis to examine the latent structures of both key features and associated symptoms of three disorders that commonly develop following a traumatic event: posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), major depressive disorder (MDD), and generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). Participants were 228 motor-vehicle accident survivors who sought treatment for emotional difficulties. PTSD, MDD, and GAD were assessed with a combination of self-report and interview-based measures. The results of construct level analyses suggested that PTSD, MDD, and GAD are distinguishable but highly correlated disorders following a traumatic event. Symptom level analyses supported a model where the Reexperiencing, Avoidance, and Hypervigilance factors were subsumed under the PTSD construct. However, in this model the Dysphoria factor was a higher order construct correlated with the PTSD, MDD, and GAD factors, suggesting that the Dysphoria cluster may not be unique to PTSD. Diagnostic and theoretical implications of these results are discussed. © 2008 American Psychological Association.

Publication Title

Journal of Abnormal Psychology