Affect and Psychiatric Symptoms in a Veteran Polytrauma Clinic


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Abstract

Although the relationship between negative affect and psychiatric symptoms has been well-demonstrated in research, less is known about positive affect relative to negative affect, and its relationship to psychiatric symptoms, especially among veterans. This study examined how levels of positive and negative affect are associated with symptoms of depression, anxiety, and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Data were collected in a veteran polytrauma clinic; analyses were conducted using data from 94 veterans (87 males) with and without a mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI) diagnosis. Results demonstrate that positive and negative affect were separate dimensions and that both were independently related to each symptom measure. After removing the contribution of negative affect from symptom reports, strong relationships remained between positive affect and psychiatric symptoms. Furthermore, the magnitude of the associations for positive affect and for negative affect with symptoms of depression, anxiety, and PTSD were not impacted by a mTBI diagnosis. Altogether, findings suggest that both positive and negative affect should be uniquely considered when conceptualizing, assessing, and treating returning service members; in addition, positive affect may be an appropriate target of assessment and interventions of persons who have experienced polytrauma.

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