Post traumatic stress disorder symptoms in a psychiatric population not presenting with trauma: a preliminary study

  • D L Mkize
Keywords: Stress-disorders, Post-traumatic, Mentally ill persons


Objective: Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a diagnostic category used to describe symptoms arising from emotionally traumatic experience(s). Research suggests that PTSD may be under- diagnosed when trauma is not the presenting problem or when not the focus of clinical intervention. There is a dearth of South African information on the prevalence of PTSD in a psychiatric population. The aim of this study was to determine the prevalence and comorbidity of PTSD in a psychiatric population, not presenting on the basis of trauma. Method: The study was cross sectional and conducted at a psychiatric outpatient clinic in the Durban Metropolitan area. The sample was obtained from patients seen at follow up over a period of twelve weeks. The researcher randomly selected prospective participants and at the end of their consultation the purpose of the study was explained and they were invited to participate. Demographic characteristics and diagnosis were recorded. Thereafter, the Zulu version of the Modified Posttraumatic Diagnostic Scale (MPDS) was administered and data collected. Results: The study demonstrated that 22% of subjects reported symptoms of PTSD where the primary presentation was not trauma related. Conclusion: A significant number of psychiatric patients presenting for non-trauma related psychopathology report symptoms of PTSD when specifically questioned. The findings suggest that such questioning may be overlooked when dealing with psychiatric patients who do not specifically present on the basis of trauma.

African Journal of Psychiatry Vol. 11 (1) 2008: pp. 51-55

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eISSN: 1994-8220