Posttraumatic Stress Disorder and Psychiatric Comorbidity Among Detained Youths

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ObjectiveThis study examined the prevalence of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and comorbid psychiatric disorders among juvenile detainees.MethodsThe sample consisted of a stratified random sample of 898 youths aged ten to 18 years who were arrested and detained in Chicago.ResultsAmong participants with PTSD, 93% had at least one comorbid psychiatric disorder; however, among those without PTSD, 64% had at least one comorbid psychiatric disorder. Over half (54%) of the participants with PTSD had two or more types of comorbid disorders—that is, affective, anxiety, behavioral, or substance use disorders—and 11% had all four types of comorbid disorders. Among males, having any psychiatric diagnosis significantly increased the odds of having comorbid PTSD. Among females, alcohol use disorder and both alcohol and drug use disorders significantly increased the odds of having PTSD. No significant difference in prevalence rates of PTSD was found between males and females with specific psychiatric disorders. The prevalence of any comorbid psychiatric disorder was significantly greater for males with PTSD than that for females with PTSD (OR=3.4, CI=1.1–10.6, p<.05).ConclusionsDetection of comorbid PTSD among detained youths must be improved. PTSD is often missed because traumatic experiences are rarely included in standard screens or volunteered by patients. When planning treatment, clinicians must consider ramifications of comorbid PTSD.

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