Children's symptoms of posttraumatic stress and depression after a natural disaster: Comorbidity and risk factors

Betty S. Lai, Annette M. La Greca, Beth A. Auslander, Mary B. Short

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

69 Scopus citations

Abstract

Background: The current study examined rates of comorbidity among children's symptoms of posttraumatic stress (PTS) and depression after a natural disaster, Hurricane Ike. We also compared children with comorbid symptoms to children without comorbid symptoms, examining recovery, severity of symptoms, and risk factors. Method: Children (n=277; 52% girls; 38% Hispanic, 28% White, 19% Black; grades 2-4) were assessed at 8 and 15 months postdisaster. Children completed measures of PTS and depressive symptoms at both time points and measures of exposure and recovery stressors at 8 months postdisaster. Results: At 8 months postdisaster, 13% of children reported elevated PTS-only, 11% depression-only, and 10% comorbid symptoms of PTS and depression. At 15 months postdisaster, 7% of children reported elevated PTS-only, 11% depression-only, and 7% comorbid symptoms of PTS and depression. Children with comorbid symptoms of PTS and depression had poorer recovery, more severe symptoms, and they reported greater exposure and recovery stressors. Limitations: We lacked information on children's predisaster functioning and diagnostic interview of psychological distress symptoms. Conclusions: Children with comorbid symptoms need to be identified early postdisaster. Levels of stressors should be monitored postdisaster, as highly stressed youth have difficulties recovering and may need help. Interventions should be tailored for children with comorbid symptoms of PTS and depression.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)71-78
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of affective disorders
Volume146
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 20 2013

Keywords

  • Children
  • Depression
  • Disasters
  • Posttraumatic stress
  • Stressors

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Clinical Psychology

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