The interaction of posttraumatic stress disorder and depression among older combat veterans

J Clin Psychol. 1999 Sep;55(9):1073-83. doi: 10.1002/(sici)1097-4679(199909)55:9<1073::aid-jclp5>;2-o.


The question whether depression is related to trauma as part of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) itself or whether it represents autonomous symptoms occurring separately (from PTSD) has not been answered. We addressed two issues: (a) What is the relationship between PTSD and depression as measured by continuous measures on outcomes? and (b) By removing depression components from the PTSD diagnosis, what is the impact on standard outcomes? Older veterans from World War II or Korea were interviewed and given self-report measures on PTSD and depression. The CAPS-1 and the MMPI-D were used as the continuous measures for PTSD and depression. The outcome measures were health status, overall adjustment, social support, and physiological status. Results showed that depression influenced health status and social support: PTSD did not contribute to the equation. The CAPS-1 also was further divided into CAPS-PTSD and CAPS-D (depression) based on item content. For adjustment and health status, PTSD asserted a greater influence; for social support and heart rate, depression was the greater influence. Discussion addressed the fact that depression is an important consideration in the expression of PTSD.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Aged
  • Arousal
  • Combat Disorders / diagnosis
  • Combat Disorders / psychology*
  • Depressive Disorder / diagnosis
  • Depressive Disorder / psychology*
  • Health Status
  • Heart Rate
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Personality Inventory
  • Prognosis
  • Veterans / psychology*