Symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder and borderline personality disorder in veterans of Operation Desert Storm

Am J Psychiatry. 2005 Feb;162(2):270-5. doi: 10.1176/appi.ajp.162.2.270.


Objective: The present report is part of a follow-along investigation focusing on the evolution of trauma-related symptoms in veterans of Operation Desert Storm. The goal of the current report was to examine three hypotheses on the relationship between severity of war-related trauma, symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and symptoms of borderline personality disorder with a mixed retrospective/prospective design.

Method: Ninety-four National Guard reservists completed self-administered measures of combat-related trauma, PTSD symptoms, and borderline personality disorder features after their Gulf War duty.

Results: Consistent with study hypotheses, prewar features of borderline personality disorder predicted variability in postwar PTSD symptoms beyond that predicted by combat exposure, combat exposure predicted variability in postwar features of borderline personality disorder, and PTSD severity assessed shortly after combat exposure accounted for additional variability in subsequent features of borderline personality disorder.

Conclusions: Taken together, the present findings suggest that trauma, symptoms of PTSD, and features of borderline personality disorder are related to one another in a complex fashion that may exceed simple linear models. Clinical and research implications for the relationships among trauma, PTSD, and borderline personality disorder are discussed.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Borderline Personality Disorder / diagnosis*
  • Borderline Personality Disorder / epidemiology
  • Combat Disorders / diagnosis
  • Combat Disorders / epidemiology
  • Connecticut / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Gulf War*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prospective Studies
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / diagnosis*
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / epidemiology
  • Veterans / psychology
  • Veterans / statistics & numerical data