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Deconstructing PTSD: Traumatic Experiences, Posttraumatic Symptom Clusters and Mental Health Problems among Delinquent Youth

This study investigated interrelations among trauma exposure, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptom clusters, and mental health problems among adjudicated adolescents. Girls scored higher than boys on measures of exposure to interpersonal trauma, PTSD symptom clusters, and mental health problems. Results of path analyses were consistent with the hypothesis that PTSD symptom clusters differentially mediate the relations between trauma exposure and mental health problems, with unique patterns of results for boys and girls. For all youth, avoidance mediated the association between trauma and internalizing symptoms whereas reexperiencing and arousal acted as mediators of externalizing. However, for boys only, noninterpersonal traumas also were related to PTSD symptoms, which in turn acted as mediators of internalizing. For girls only, reexperiencing and arousal acted as mediators of internalizing and associated symptoms of PTSD acted as a mediator of externalizing.