What parts of PTSD are normal: Intrusion, avoidance, or arousal? Data from the Northridge, California, earthquake

J. Curtis McMillen, Carol S North, Elizabeth M. Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

175 Scopus citations

Abstract

The incidence and comorbidity of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are addressed in a study of 130 Northridge, California, earthquake survivors interviewed 3 months postdisaster. Only 13% of the sample met full PTSD criteria, but 48% met both the reexperiencing and the arousal symptom criteria, without meeting the avoidance and numbing symptom criterion. Psychiatric comorbidity was associated mostly with avoidance and numbing symptoms. For moderately severe traumatic events, reexperiencing and arousal symptoms may be the most 'normal,' and survivors with a history of psychiatric problems may be those most likely to develop full PTSD. A system that considers people who meet all three symptom criteria to have a psychiatric disorder yet recognizes the distress of other symptomatic survivors may best serve traumatized populations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)57-75
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Traumatic Stress
Volume13
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - 2000

Keywords

  • Comorbidity
  • Disaster
  • PTSD
  • Symptom criteria

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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