Experiential avoidance increases PTSD risk following child maltreatment

- March 5, 2014

Science Daily/Penn State

Child abuse is a reliable predictor of post-traumatic stress disorder, but not all maltreated children suffer from it, according researchers, who examined why some maltreated children develop PTSD and some do not.

 

The research team found that adolescent girls who experienced maltreatment in the past year and were willing to talk about their painful experiences and their thoughts and emotions, were less likely to have PTSD symptoms one year later. Those who tried to avoid painful thoughts and emotions were significantly more likely to exhibit PTSD symptoms down the road.

 

Approximately 40 percent of maltreated children develop PTSD at some point in their lives. Shenk sought to identify the factors that kept the remaining 60 percent from experiencing the disorder.

 

"Children and adolescents react very differently to abuse, and we don't yet know who is going to develop PTSD and who won't," said Shenk. "What factors explain who will develop PTSD and who will not? This study attempted to identify those causal pathways to PTSD."

 

"If we can find what the cause or risk pathway is, then we know what to target clinically," he said.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/03/140305125239.htm

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