A Quarter of Cases of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Is With Delayed Onset

This month’s guest post is by Geert Smid. Geert is a psychiatrist with Foundation Centrum ’45, the Dutch national institute for specialized diagnosis and mental health treatment after persecution, war and violence. He is also a researcher at Arq Psychotrauma Expert Group. Geert completed his PhD on Delayed Posttraumatic Stress Disorder in 2011 with a number of beautiful publications. He’ll make your brain work a little on this very topic:

According to the current edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, delayed posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) must be diagnosed in individuals fulfilling criteria for PTSD if the onset of symptoms is at least 6 months after the trauma. The prevalence of delayed PTSD has for a long time remained unclear, and only few studies have examined factors that may explain its occurrence. The findings summarized below are based on prospective investigations in disaster survivors and unaccompanied refugee minors, as well as a comprehensive meta-analysis of prospective studies.

1. About a quarter of PTSD cases is with delayed onset. The results of our meta-analysis showed that delayed PTSD occurs in about one quarter of all PTSD cases. The risk of delayed PTSD did not decrease between 9 and 25 months after the traumatic event, and when traumatized populations were followed up for longer periods of time, more delayed PTSD cases were found. These findings suggest ongoing potential risk for some individuals.

2. During the interval between the trauma and delayed PTSD onset, some symptoms are likely to occur. Delayed PTSD occurred most often in individuals already reporting “subthreshold” symptoms after the traumatic event. These symptoms Continue reading