Current PTSD symptomatology distorts memory for past symptoms

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    Abstract

    Clinicians often rely on clients’ retrospective reports of past symptoms to diagnose and treat Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). However, there is limited research investigating memory for past PTSD symptoms. We asked sexual assault survivors to report their PTSD symptoms and then recall them 6 months later. Overall, symptom recall was consistent with initial reports. However, after dividing participants into PTSD-positive and negative groups, we found that people who were PTSD-negative at follow-up underestimated past PTSD symptom severity while people who were PTSD-positive overestimated past symptoms. For example, 2.8% of PTSD-negative participants versus 15.9% of PTSD-positive participants recalled experiencing 20+ more points on the PCL-5 at follow-up than at initial assessment. Further, people who adjusted over time greatly underestimated past symptoms unlike those who remained PTSD-positive. Our findings have important theoretical and clinical implications because they show that current symptom severity may influence the memory reconstruction of prior levels of adjustment.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)330-334
    Number of pages5
    JournalPsychiatry Research
    Volume274
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2019

    Keywords

    • Psychological trauma
    • PTSD

    Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Current PTSD symptomatology distorts memory for past symptoms'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

  • Cite this