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Behav Ther. 2010 Mar;41(1):93-105. doi: 10.1016/j.beth.2009.01.004. Epub 2009 Sep 2.

Fear and loathing: a meta-analytic review of the specificity of anger in PTSD.

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Department of Psychology, Vanderbilt University, 301 Wilson Hall, 11121st Avenue South, Nashville, TN 37203, USA.


The available empirical literature suggests that anger may be characteristic of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Meta-analytic strategies were used to evaluate the extent to which the experience of anger is specific to PTSD rather than anxiety disorders in general. Thirty-four anxiety disorder patient samples (n=2,169) from 28 separate studies were included in the analysis. Results yielded a large effect size indicating greater anger difficulties among anxiety disorder patients versus controls. Compared to control samples, a diagnosis of PTSD was associated with significantly greater difficulties with anger than was any other anxiety disorder diagnosis. Other anxiety disorder diagnoses did not differ significantly from each other. However, the specific association between PTSD and anger did vary depending on the anger domain assessed. Difficulties with anger control, anger in, and anger out significantly differentiated PTSD from non-PTSD anxiety disorder samples, whereas difficulties with anger expression, state anger, and trait anger did not. These findings are discussed in the context of future research on the role of anger in PTSD.

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