Send to

Choose Destination
J Affect Disord. 2004 Jun;80(2-3):231-8.

Comorbidity of PTSD and depression: associations with trauma exposure, symptom severity and functional impairment in Bosnian refugees resettled in Australia.

Author information

School of Psychiatry, University of New South Wales, Centre for Population Mental Health Research, Sydney, NSW 2150, Australia.



Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is common in refugees but its association with longer-term psychosocial dysfunction remains unclear. We examined whether a subgroup of refugees with comorbid PTSD and depression were at particularly high risk of disability. We also investigated whether specific trauma experiences were linked to this comorbid pattern.


Consecutive Bosnians (and one or two compatriots nominated by them) were recruited from a community centre, yielding a total sample of 126 participants (response rate 86%). Measures included a trauma inventory, the Clinician Administered PTSD Scale (CAPS) (Blake et al., 1995) and the depression module of the Structured Clinical Interview (SCID) (First et al., 1997).


Three diagnostic groupings emerged: normals (n=39), pure PTSD (n=29), and comorbid PTSD and depression (n=58). Of four trauma dimensions derived from principle components analysis (human rights violations, dispossession and eviction, life threat and traumatic loss), life threat alone was associated with pure PTSD, with life threat and traumatic loss both being associated with comorbidity. Compared to normals and those with pure PTSD, the comorbid group manifested more severe PTSD symptoms as well as higher levels of disability on all indices (global dysfunction: odds ratio=5.0, P<0.001, distress: odds ratio=6.0, P<0.001, social impairment: odds ratio 5.9, P<0.001, and occupational disability: odds ratio 5.0, P<0.001).


Recruitment was not random, the sample size was modest, and trauma event endorsement was based on retrospective accounts.


The combination of life threat and traumatic loss may be particularly undermining to the psychological well-being of refugees and consequent comorbidity of PTSD and depression may be associated with longer-term psychosocial dysfunction. The findings raise the question whether the comorbid pattern identified should be given more recognition as a core posttraumatic affective disorder.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Elsevier Science
Loading ...
Support Center