General distress is more important than PTSD's cognition and mood alterations factor in accounting for PTSD and depression's comorbidity. Academic Article uri icon


  • BACKGROUND: Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and major depressive disorder (MDD) are highly comorbid and exhibit strong correlations with each other at both the symptom level and latent factor level. Various theories have attempted to explain this relationship. Results have been inconsistent regarding whether PTSD's negative alterations in cognition and mood factor (NACM) is significantly more related to depression, in contrast to other factors of PTSD. METHODS: Confirmatory factor analysis was used to attempt to address the relationships between PTSD and MDD in a large sample of trauma-exposed combat veterans from the Ohio National Guard as part of a larger longitudinal study. RESULTS: Confirmatory factor analysis was used to test a bifactor model of PTSD symptoms, testing relations between PTSD's factors and a latent depressive factor. After partitioning out the common variance into the bifactor, we found that in contrast to other PTSD factors, PTSD's NACM factor was not significantly more related to depression. Instead, only the general bifactor predicted depressive symptoms. LIMITATIONS: The limitations of the present study include the following: the specific measures of PTSD and MDD used were based on self-report, and the sample consisted of non-clinical, non-treatment seeking veterans. CONCLUSIONS: The present study suggests that the high rate of comorbidity between posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and major depressive disorder is more related to underlying general distress or negative affectivity than the symptom categories of the PTSD diagnostic criteria.

published proceedings

  • J Affect Disord

altmetric score

  • 0.25

author list (cited authors)

  • Byllesby, B. M., Elhai, J. D., Tamburrino, M., Fine, T. H., Cohen, G., Sampson, L., ... Calabrese, J. R.

citation count

  • 32

complete list of authors

  • Byllesby, Brianna M||Elhai, Jon D||Tamburrino, Marijo||Fine, Thomas H||Cohen, Gregory||Sampson, Laura||Shirley, Edwin||Chan, Philip K||Liberzon, Israel||Galea, Sandro||Calabrese, Joseph R

publication date

  • March 2017