The concept of post-traumatic mood disorder and its implications for adolescent suicidal behavior

L Sher
Minerva Pediatrica 2008, 60 (6): 1393-9
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a common psychiatric disorder which is frequently comorbid with major depressive disorder (MDD). It has been suggested that some or all individuals diagnosed with comorbid PTSD and MDD have a separate psychobiological condition that can be termed ''post-traumatic mood disorder'' (PTMD). The idea was based on the fact that a significant number of studies suggested that patients suffering from comorbid PTSD and MDD differed clinically and biologically from individuals with PTSD alone or MDD alone. Individuals with comorbid PTSD and MDD are characterized by greater severity of symptoms and the higher level of impairment in social and occupational functioning compared to individuals with PTSD alone or MDD alone. Neurobiological evidence supporting the concept of PTMD includes the findings from neuroendocrine challenge, cerebrospinal fluid, neuroimaging, sleep and other studies. It has been demonstrated that child abuse increases the risk for PTSD, MDD, and suicidal behavior in adolescents and adults. Many victims of childhood abuse develop comorbid PTSD and depression, i.e., they develop PTMD. PTMD is associated with suicidal behavior. The link between childhood abuse, suicidal behavior in adolescents and PTMD indicates that it is important to develop interventions to prevent PTMD in victims of child abuse; to develop measures to prevent suicidal behavior in adolescents with PTMD; and to study psychobiology of PTMD in order to develop treatments for PTMD. Priorities for intervening to reduce adolescent suicidal behavior lie with interventions focused upon the improved recognition, treatment and management of adolescents with psychiatric disorders including PTMD.

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