Emotion Dysregulation Prospectively Predicts Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Symptom Severity 3 Months After Trauma Exposure

J Trauma Stress. 2020 Dec;33(6):1007-1016. doi: 10.1002/jts.22551. Epub 2020 Jun 11.


Despite growing evidence in support of emotion dysregulation as a risk factor for the development of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) following trauma exposure, few studies have examined temporal relations between emotion dysregulation and the onset and/or worsening of PTSD symptoms over time. The aim of the present study was to extend research on temporal associations between emotion dysregulation and PTSD in a sample of individuals recruited from hospital emergency departments soon after a traumatic event. Adult participants (N = 85; 62.4% female) completed self-report measures of emotion dysregulation and PTSD symptoms within 2 weeks of experiencing a traumatic event. Symptoms of PTSD were assessed approximately 3 months posttrauma. The results of a hierarchical linear regression analysis demonstrated that the inclusion of emotion dysregulation accounted for a significant amount of unique variance, β = .23, ΔR2 = .04, p = .042, in 3-month PTSD symptom severity over and above other risk factors and baseline PTSD symptoms. No specific facet of emotion dysregulation emerged as a significant predictor of 3-month PTSD symptoms when all facets were included on the same step of the model, βs = -.04-.33, ps = .133-.954. These results demonstrate that posttraumatic emotion dysregulation may predict PTSD symptoms 3 months after trauma exposure. These findings are consistent with a growing body of literature that speaks to the relevance of emotional processes to the onset and maintenance of PTSD following exposure to a traumatic event.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Disease Progression
  • Emotional Regulation*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Risk Factors
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / diagnosis
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / psychology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Time Factors