What is it about?

Although a large number of studies have investigated age differences in PTSD-symptoms, results remain inconclusive. One reason for the mixed findings may be that studies have investigated victims of different trauma types only one time after their trauma happened - and this time point vary from immediately after to decades later. In this study, we investigated age differences in adult victims of the same devastating hurricane. We measured PTSD-symptom levels both 1.5 and 7 months after the hurricane made landfall. We found younger participants to show higher PTSD-levels at both time points after controlling for how severe their hurricane experience was and how central they perceived the hurricane experience to be to their life story and identity. Interestingly, young adults over time increased how severely they described their hurricane experience to be.

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Why is it important?

Research on age differences in PTSD-symptoms is important in both identifying vulnerable populations who may be in particular need of support after traumatic events, but also in understanding how PTSD-develops. The findings that youth was associated with higher levels of PTSD-symptoms, together with the findings that young participants described their hurricane experience in more severe ways over time, suggest that cognitive processes in youth are associated with increased risk of developing PTSD after traumatic events.

Perspectives

The PTSD-field has evolved dramatically since the diagnosis was first formulated in 1980. With this article, I hope to add to the literature, to contribute to the understanding of the disorder - and to help improve help for those who suffer.

Inge Lise Lundsgaard Kongshøj
Aarhus Universitet

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This page is a summary of: Is young age a risk factor for PTSD? Age differences in PTSD-symptoms after Hurricane Florence., Traumatology An International Journal, May 2022, American Psychological Association (APA), DOI: 10.1037/trm0000389.
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