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. 2010 Feb;116(2-3):217-27.
doi: 10.1016/j.schres.2009.10.025. Epub 2009 Nov 24.

The Trauma of Psychosis: Posttraumatic Stress Disorder and Recent Onset Psychosis

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The Trauma of Psychosis: Posttraumatic Stress Disorder and Recent Onset Psychosis

Kim T Mueser et al. Schizophr Res. .

Abstract

Clinical investigators have argued that the experience of a recent onset of psychosis is an event of such severity that it can lead to posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), or at least to PTSD symptoms. The traumagenic elements of the psychotic experience may relate to the distressing nature of psychotic symptoms, components of treatment, or both. However, this hypotheses has not been fully empirically evaluated. In particular, the importance of the DSM-IV A1 (perception of threat) and A2 (negative emotion at time of event) criteria for a traumatic event due to a psychotic episode has not been assessed. To address this question, 38 clients in treatment for recent onset of psychosis were interviewed to identify distressing experiences related to the episode, with PTSD assessed (including A1/A2 criteria) related to those events. More than one-half of the participants reported intense distress related to psychotic symptoms or treatment experiences, with 66% meeting symptom criteria for the PTSD syndrome (regardless of A1/A2), and 39% meeting full diagnostic criteria for PTSD (including A1/A2). Both participants with the PTSD syndrome and full PTSD reported more problems in daily functioning and more severe symptoms than those without PTSD. Participants with the PTSD syndrome were also more likely to have an integrative rather than sealing over coping style compared to those without the PTSD syndrome. The results suggest that individuals with PTSD symptoms related to a recent onset of psychosis may benefit from intervention designed to help them integrate their experience into their lives and address potentially stigmatizing beliefs that could contribute to distress and impaired functioning.

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