Initial physiological responses and perceived hyperarousal predict subsequent emotional numbing in pediatric injury patients

J Trauma Stress. 2006 Jun;19(3):349-59. doi: 10.1002/jts.20130.


The present study tested the hypothesis that acute posttraumatic hyperarousal would lead to the development of emotional numbing (EN) symptoms in a pediatric injury population. Eighty-two youths aged 8-18 years were recruited from the emergency department of a Midwestern children's hospital. Heart rate was recorded from emergency medical services reports and a 12-hour urine collection was initiated upon admission. Six weeks and 6 months later, depression and PTSD symptoms were assessed. Initial heart rate and urinary cortisol levels predicted 6-week and 6-month EN after controlling for concurrent depression, avoidance, and reexperiencing symptoms and 6-week hyperarousal symptoms. These findings provide empirical support for prior hypotheses concerning the development of PTSD symptoms over time.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Affective Symptoms / etiology*
  • Affective Symptoms / physiopathology
  • Affective Symptoms / psychology
  • Child
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Heart Rate
  • Humans
  • Hydrocortisone / urine
  • Male
  • Midwestern United States
  • Prognosis
  • Regression Analysis
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / etiology*
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / physiopathology
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / psychology
  • Stress, Physiological / etiology
  • Stress, Physiological / physiopathology
  • Stress, Physiological / psychology*
  • Trauma Severity Indices
  • Wounds and Injuries / complications
  • Wounds and Injuries / physiopathology
  • Wounds and Injuries / psychology*


  • Hydrocortisone