Article 3 -Cumulative Adversity and PTSD: Evidence From a Diverse Community
Sample of Young Adults
Does the extent of the event preceding PTSD increase the chances of actually having PTSD?
Or, is it about the stress a person experiences prior to the trauma?
Studies suggest that most people will experience at least one traumatic event in their life, but only 9
– 12% of young adults who were experienced a trauma met the criteria for PTSD.
About ¼ of adults in their 30’s will have PTSD as a result of a traumatic experience.
Experts suggest that even genetic and biological factors can influence the likelihood that
someone will have PTSD.
Rape and sexual violence are the strongest predictors of PTSD
The sudden death of a loved one is the most common cause of PTSD, but it’s also the most common
Personality and attitude vulnerability is a strong risk factor as well
Cumulative stress is a risk factor for psychological distress and disorders, but studies have not
conclusively studied cumulative stress and PTSD.
Many studies have looked at the stress following the traumatic event, but none have conclusively
studied stress beforehand.
Stress following the traumatic event can intensify the PTSD symptoms
The study confirmed that traumatic experiences beyond the focal event increases risk for PTSD
Studied 41 events, many which fell outside of the current accepted diagnostic criteria by
definition (even when all other factors are controlled)
Concluded that the development of PTSD is a process that includes the roll of stress beyond
the single event. Suggests there aren’t just certain kind of events that can predict PTSD.
Some predictors of PTSD (when accumulated)
o Parental divorce
o Failing grades in school
o Witnessing violence
This concludes that prior events to the stressor DO matter.
Limitations = all of the data collected is highly subjective. Memories from prior life stressors
preceding the event could be skewed, especially in children.
Also, not sure if the data collected from the younger population can be generalized to an
older population. Destructive hurricanes can lead to posttraumatic stress (PTS) in children.
Study addresses “gaps in current literature”