Comorbidity of psychiatric diagnoses with posttraumatic stress disorder in survivors of childhood trauma

J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry. 1995 Sep;34(9):1167-73. doi: 10.1097/00004583-199509000-00014.


Objective: This study examines posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms, trauma exposure, gender, and diagnostic comorbidity in a sample of 59 Cambodian young adults (29 male and 30 female) who survived massive trauma as children.

Method: Psychiatric diagnoses were made using the Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-III-R-Non-Patient version, a structured diagnostic interview, and trauma exposure was measured with a Traumatic Life Events Questionnaire.

Results: A significant number of those with PTSD (59%) had one or more additional DSM-III-R Axis I disorders. Major depression and generalized anxiety disorder were the most common comorbid disorders. Somatoform pain disorder was also found to coexist with PTSD but only among females. Women were also found to have higher levels of both current and lifetime PTSD symptoms.

Conclusion: Trauma symptoms were related to exposure and exposure was related to age, but age was not related to symptoms. The findings suggest that the significant levels of comorbid diagnoses previously found to exist with PTSD in people traumatized as adults can be found among survivors of massive childhood trauma. Also, the rate of PTSD diagnoses found in this sample 15 years after the trauma of Pol Pot is comparable to findings previously reported in studies of Cambodian youths and shows that the effects of trauma experienced in childhood persist into early adulthood.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Cambodia
  • Comorbidity
  • Depressive Disorder / complications*
  • Depressive Disorder / diagnosis
  • Depressive Disorder / psychology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Sex Factors
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / complications*
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / diagnosis
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / psychology
  • Survivors / psychology*
  • United States / ethnology