Heterogeneity in patterns of DSM-5 posttraumatic stress disorder and depression symptoms: Latent profile analyses

Ateka A. Contractor, Michelle E. Roley-Roberts, Susan Lagdon, Cherie Armour

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Scopus citations


Background Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depression co-occur frequently following the experience of potentially traumatizing events (PTE; Morina et al., 2013). A person-centered approach to discern heterogeneous patterns of such co-occurring symptoms is recommended (Galatzer-Levy and Bryant, 2013). We assessed heterogeneity in PTSD and depression symptomatology; and subsequently assessed relations between class membership with psychopathology constructs (alcohol use, distress tolerance, dissociative experiences). Methods The sample consisted of 268 university students who had experienced a PTE and susequently endorsed clinical levels of PTSD or depression severity. Latent profile analyses (LPA) was used to identify the best-fitting class solution accouring to recommended fit indices (Nylund et al., 2007a); and the effects of covariates was analyzed using a 3-step approach (Vermunt, 2010). Results Results of the LPA indicated an optimal 3-class solutions: high severity (Class 2), lower PTSD-higher depression (Class 1), and higher PTSD-lower depression (Class 3). Covariates of distress tolerance, and different kinds of dissociative experiences differentiated the latent classes. Limitations Use of self-report measure could lead to response biases; and the specific nature of the sample limits generalizability of results. Conclusion We found evidence for a depressive subtype of PTSD differentiated from other classes in terms of lower distress tolerance and greater dissociative experiences. Thus, transdiagnostic treatment protocols may be most beneficial for these latent class members. Further, the distinctiveness of PTSD and depression at comparatively lower levels of PTSD severity was supported (mainly in terms of distress tolerance abilities); hence supporting the current classification system placement of these disorders.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)17-24
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Affective Disorders
StatePublished - Apr 1 2017
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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