The association between traumatic life events and psychological symptoms from a conservative, transdiagnostic perspective

Psychiatry Research
Lauren E GibsonLauren M Ellman


Exposure to traumatic life events (TLEs) is strongly linked to the onset and exacerbation of an array of psychological sequelae. While studies yield minimal evidence of specificity for one disorder emerging in the aftermath of TLEs versus another, most studies do not adopt a conservative approach in controlling for multiple psychological symptoms linked to TLEs. The present study explored the association between TLEs and eight psychological constructs before and after adjusting for concurrent symptomatology in a diverse sample of 2342 undergraduates. We predicted three symptom domains would withstand conservative adjustments in their relationship to TLEs: posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), borderline personality disorder (BPD), and attenuated positive psychotic symptoms (APPS). Results indicated that exposure to at least one TLE, but especially four or more TLEs, was significantly associated with PTSD and BPD symptoms even after controlling for concurrent symptoms. Additionally, the association between four or more TLEs and APPS persisted despite adjusting for covariates. Findings underscore the critical role that TLE histories play in posttraumatic stress, borderline personality, and attenuated psychotic symptom expression....Continue Reading


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