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Psychiatry Res. 2012 Apr 30;196(2-3):271-6. doi: 10.1016/j.psychres.2011.11.015. Epub 2012 Mar 5.

Behavioral inhibition and PTSD symptoms in veterans.

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Department of Veterans Affairs, VA New Jersey Health Care System, East Orange, NJ, USA.


Behavioral inhibition (BI), a temperamental bias to respond to novel stimuli with avoidance behaviors, is a risk factor for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). It is unclear whether BI accounts for additional variance in PTSD symptom severity beyond that accounted for by general anxiety. Here, 109 veterans (mean age 50.4 years, 9.2% female) provided self-assessment of PTSD symptoms, state and trait anxiety, combat exposure, and current (adult) and retrospective (childhood) BI. Adult BI was correlated with anxiety and PTSD symptom severity, especially cluster C (avoidance) symptoms, but not with combat exposure. A regression model including adult BI, state and trait anxiety, and combat exposure was able to correctly classify over 80% of participants according to presence or absence of severe PTSD symptoms. Because avoidance behaviors are a core component of PTSD, self-assessments of BI may be an important tool in understanding PTSD and potentially assessing vulnerability to the disorder.

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