Trauma history predicts depression and posttraumatic stress symptoms better than a psychiatric diagnosis: Comparing wartime, routine time, and early COVID-19 in Israel

Marc Gelkopf, Rony Berger, Sheila Daniela Dicker-Oren, Liron Lapid Pickman, Talya Greene

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Individuals with a psychiatric diagnosis and those with a history of trauma are at high risk for depression and posttraumatic stress symptoms (PTSS) following exposure to new traumatic events. Nevertheless, research is scarce on how having both a psychiatric diagnosis and a trauma history affect reactions to new traumatic events, and how different trauma types may affect individuals with a psychiatric diagnosis. We thus examined whether different stressful contexts (War and COVID-19) affected individuals with and without a psychiatric diagnosis differentially and whether results might be explained by prior trauma exposure. In the same cohort, we assessed depression and PTSS during wartime (2014), routine time (2016), and during the COVID-19 pandemic (2020) in a sample with (n = 89) and without (n = 104) a self-reported psychiatric diagnosis. This cohort was recruited during the 2014 Israel-Gaza War using social media, snowballing and outreach to mental health rehabilitation centres. We used a linear mixed modelling approach on data from the entire sample, as well as on the two study groups separately. We found that trauma history predicted PTSS and depression whereas a history of psychiatric diagnosis did not. Regarding trauma types, we found that individuals in the psychiatric diagnosis group relative to themselves had more symptoms during COVID-19 compared to war and routine time, while those without diagnosis had more PTSS and depression symptoms during wartime compared to routine time and COVID-19. In conclusion, a traumatic past may have an important influence on reactions to different types of traumatic events. Distinct traumatic events may affect individuals with or without a psychiatric diagnosis differentially.

Original languageAmerican English
Article numbere3254
JournalStress and Health
Volume40
Issue number1
Early online date10 May 2023
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 2024

Keywords

  • COVID-19
  • depression
  • mental health disorder
  • posttraumatic stress
  • trauma
  • war

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Applied Psychology

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