Exposure to dysfunctional parenting and trauma events and posttraumatic stress profiles among a treatment sample with coexisting depression and alcohol use problems

Kylie Bailey, Rosemary Webster, Amanda L Baker, David J Kavanagh
Drug and Alcohol Review 2012, 31 (4): 529-37

INTRODUCTION AND AIMS: Trauma exposure (including experiencing dysfunctional parenting when a child) and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) frequently coexist with major depressive disorder (MDD) and alcohol use disorders (AUD), with the impact of this comorbidity usually studied as a dual disorder (i.e. PTSD-MDD or PTSD-AUD). This study explores trauma exposure (including to dysfunctional parenting), PTSD symptom severity and PTSD in people seeking treatment for coexisting depressive symptoms and alcohol use problems.

DESIGN AND METHODS: Participants (n = 221) with current depression and alcohol use problems were recruited. Trauma exposure, PTSD symptoms and PTSD were assessed using the Posttraumatic Stress Diagnostic Scale. The Measure of Parenting Style assessed dysfunctional parenting (neglect/over-control/abuse) experienced as a child.

RESULTS: Most participants experienced trauma (71.6%, n = 159), with more than one-third reaching DSM-IV criteria for current PTSD (38.0%, n = 84). Unique to this study was that there were no gender differences in rates of trauma exposure, number of traumatic events and PTSD. More severe PTSD symptoms and PTSD were associated with: childhood neglect; earlier depression onset; more severe depression and alcohol problems; and lower general functioning. More severe problems with alcohol were related to Intrusion and Avoidance symptoms, while severe alcohol dependence symptoms were related to hyperarousal.

DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSIONS: PTSD symptoms and PTSD are highly prevalent in those with coexisting depression and alcohol use problems and are associated with a history of childhood neglect and higher levels of comorbidity. Trauma, PTSD symptoms and PTSD should be assessed and addressed among people seeking treatment for coexisting depression and alcohol problems.

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