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Keywords:

  • PTSD;
  • dissociation;
  • subtype;
  • latent class/profile analysis;
  • confirmatory factor analysis;
  • comorbidity

Background

Dissociative symptoms are increasingly recognized in individuals with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The aim of this study was to investigate the prevalence of derealization and depersonalization symptoms via latent profile analyses (LPAs) in a civilian PTSD sample and examine the relationship between PTSD and dissociative symptoms via factor analytic methods.

Methods

A civilian sample of individuals with PTSD predominantly related to childhood abuse (n = 134) completed a diagnostic interview for PTSD and comorbid psychiatric disorders. LPAs and confirmatory factor analyses (CFAs) were performed on the severity scores for PTSD, derealization, and depersonalization symptoms.

Results

LPAs extracted three groups, one of which was uniquely characterized by high derealization and depersonalization symptoms, and accounted for 25% of the sample. Individuals in the dissociative subgroup also showed a higher number of comorbid Axis I disorders and a more significant history of childhood abuse and neglect. CFAs suggested the acceptance of a five factor solution in which dissociative symptoms are distinct from but correlate significantly with the core PTSD symptom clusters.

Conclusions

The results from LPAs and CFAs are concordant with the concept of a dissociative subtype in patients with PTSD and suggest that symptoms of derealization-depersonalization and the core symptoms of PTSD are positively correlated. Thought should be given to including a dissociative subtype of PTSD in the DSM-5.