Community Patterns of Posttraumatic Stress Disorders

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This paper reports lifetime rates for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in two rural northwest communities. One community was affected by a major natural disaster, the eruption of Mt. St. Helens. Following an epidemiology study of this disaster, communitywide patterns of PTSD were identified. Disaster-related, combat, sexual assault, and all other types of PTSD are presented for men and women. Symptom patterns from these distinct PTSD stressors are compared along with concurrent psychiatric disorders. The findings are discussed with other studies that use a broader definition of disaster stress response syndromes. This comparison identifies a limitation of PTSD diagnostic criteria that may significantly underestimate community rates.

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