General distress is more important than PTSD's cognition and mood alterations factor in accounting for PTSD and depression's comorbidity

Brianna M. Byllesby, Jon D. Elhai, Marijo Tamburrino, Thomas H. Fine, Gregory Cohen, Laura Sampson, Edwin Shirley, Philip K. Chan, Israel Liberzon, Sandro Galea, Joseph R. Calabrese

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

19 Scopus citations

Abstract

Background Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and major depressive disorder (MDD) are highly comorbid and exhibit strong correlations with each other at both the symptom level and latent factor level. Various theories have attempted to explain this relationship. Results have been inconsistent regarding whether PTSD's negative alterations in cognition and mood factor (NACM) is significantly more related to depression, in contrast to other factors of PTSD. Methods Confirmatory factor analysis was used to attempt to address the relationships between PTSD and MDD in a large sample of trauma-exposed combat veterans from the Ohio National Guard as part of a larger longitudinal study. Results Confirmatory factor analysis was used to test a bifactor model of PTSD symptoms, testing relations between PTSD's factors and a latent depressive factor. After partitioning out the common variance into the bifactor, we found that in contrast to other PTSD factors, PTSD's NACM factor was not significantly more related to depression. Instead, only the general bifactor predicted depressive symptoms. Limitations The limitations of the present study include the following: the specific measures of PTSD and MDD used were based on self-report, and the sample consisted of non-clinical, non-treatment seeking veterans. Conclusions The present study suggests that the high rate of comorbidity between posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and major depressive disorder is more related to underlying general distress or negative affectivity than the symptom categories of the PTSD diagnostic criteria.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)118-123
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Affective Disorders
Volume211
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 15 2017

Keywords

  • Depression
  • Factor analysis
  • Posttraumatic stress disorder

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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