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, 146 (1), 71-8

Children's Symptoms of Posttraumatic Stress and Depression After a Natural Disaster: Comorbidity and Risk Factors

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Children's Symptoms of Posttraumatic Stress and Depression After a Natural Disaster: Comorbidity and Risk Factors

Betty S Lai et al. J Affect Disord.

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.

Conflict of interest statement

Conflict of interest

All authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.

Figures

Figure 1
Figure 1
Changes in children’s clinically significant symptom levels from Time 1 to Time 2.
Figure 2
Figure 2
PTS and depressive symptoms levels over time by Time 1 clinical symptom groups.

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