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J Anxiety Disord. 2009 Mar;23(2):185-96. doi: 10.1016/j.janxdis.2008.06.006. Epub 2008 Jul 1.

Post-traumatic stress disorder, social anxiety disorder, and depression in survivors of the Kosovo War: experiential avoidance as a contributor to distress and quality of life.

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Department of Psychology, George Mason University, Fairfax, VA 22030, United States.


Few studies have been conducted on psychological disorders other than post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in war survivors. The aim of this study was to examine PTSD, social anxiety disorder (SAD), and major depressive disorder (MDD) and their associations with distress and quality of life in 174 Albanian civilian survivors of the Kosovo War. This included testing of conceptual models suggesting that experiential avoidance might influence associations between anxiety and mood disorders with psychological functioning. Each of the three psychiatric disorders was associated with greater experiential avoidance and psychological distress, and lower quality of life. Being a refugee was associated with a higher likelihood of having SAD and MDD. We found evidence for experiential avoidance as a partial mediator of the respective effects of SAD and PTSD on quality of life; experiential avoidance did not mediate the effects of disorders on global distress. We also found support for a moderation model showing that only war survivors without SAD and low experiential avoidance reported elevated quality of life; people with either SAD or excessive reliance on experiential avoidance reported compromised, low quality of life. This is the third independent study, each using a different methodology, to find empirical support for this moderation model [Kashdan, T. B., & Breen, W. E. (2008). Social anxiety and positive emotions: a prospective examination of a self-regulatory model with tendencies to suppress or express emotions as a moderating variable. Behavior Therapy, 39, 1-12; Kashdan, T. B., & Steger, M. F. (2006). Expanding the topography of social anxiety: an experience sampling assessment of positive emotions and events, and emotion suppression. Psychological Science, 17, 120-128]. Overall, we provided initial evidence for the importance of addressing PTSD, SAD, MDD, and experiential avoidance in primarily civilian war survivors.

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