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The role of personality traits in posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Review article
Jakšić N, et al. Psychiatr Danub. 2012.

Abstract

BACKGROUND: A number of studies have shown that although exposure to potentially traumatic events is common, development of PTSD is relatively rare, which is one of the reasons PTSD still remains a controversial psychiatric entity. The aim of this article was to provide an overview of the research on the role of personality traits in the vulnerability, resilience, posttraumatic growth and expressions associated with PTSD. Personality based approach represents a dimensional aspect of the transdisciplinary integrative model of PTSD.

METHODS: We conducted a systematic search on PubMed, PsycINFO, and Academic Search Complete from 1980 (the year PTSD was first included in the DSM) and 2012 (the year the literature search was performed). Manual examination of secondary sources such as the reference sections of selected articles and book chapters were also conducted.

RESULTS: Most of the reviewed studies dealing with personality traits as vulnerability and protective factors for PTSD examined the relationship between basic personality dimensions and severity of symptoms of PTSD. These studies have applied three types of methodological designs: cross-sectional, post-trauma and pre-trauma longitudinal studies, with latter being the least common option.

CONCLUSION: Finding that appears relatively consistent is that PTSD is positively related to negative emotionality, neuroticism, harm avoidance, novelty-seeking and self-transcendence, as well as to trait hostility/anger and trait anxiety. On the other hand, PTSD symptoms are negatively associated with extraversion, conscientiousness, self-directedness, the combination of high positive and low negative emotionality, as well as with hardiness and optimism, while posttraumatic growth shows inverse relation to most of these traits. Furthermore, a number of studies have confirmed the existence of three distinct personality-based subtypes of PTSD: internalizing, externalizing and low pathology PTSD. These findings may help in further uncovering etiological mechanisms and in building new strategies for prevention, identification and reduction of health risks among this trauma population, as well as facilitating potential posttraumatic growth. However, focusing on just a single dimensional perspective will unable us to generate comprehensive knowledge of the etiology, course and treatment of PTSD.

PMID

23013628 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

Full text

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