A prospective study of the onset of PTSD symptoms in the first month after trauma exposure

Jeannie B. Whitman, Carol S North, Dana L. Downs, Edward L. Spitznagel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND: The course of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms in the month after trauma exposure has not been determined adequately. Symptom group C (avoidance/numbing) has been identified retrospectively as a marker for PTSD, but prospective studies are needed to determine whether these symptoms can provide substantially earlier identification of those who will have PTSD 1 month after trauma exposure. METHODS: We evaluated 42 patients hospitalized for traumatic injuries over the first post-injury month to track development of posttraumatic symptoms. RESULTS: Symptoms emerged rapidly, with group B (intrusion) and group D (hyperarousal) symptoms occurring earlier than group C symptoms. At 1 week, group C criteria accurately predicted who would develop PTSD by 1 month, and by 2 weeks, group C criteria also predicted who would not develop PTSD by 1 month. CONCLUSIONS: The findings, if replicated, may permit earlier identification of PTSD and more timely, appropriate treatment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)163-172
Number of pages10
JournalAnnals of Clinical Psychiatry
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 1 2013


  • Emergency medicine
  • PTSD
  • Posttraumatic stress disorder
  • Trauma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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