Posttraumatic stress disorder and its comorbidity with depression and somatisation in the elderly - a German community-based study.Aging Ment Health. 2012; 16(4):403-12.AM
Even 60 years after World War II, the German elderly population is significantly more often affected by posttraumatic symptomatology compared to the younger cohorts. This study is addressing prevalence rates of posttraumatic symptomatology and its comorbidity with depression and somatisation.
This study examines posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) according to DSM-IV, partial PTSD, depression and somatisation in a randomly selected sample of the German general population aged 60-85 years (N = 1.659) using self-rating instruments (Patient Health Questionnaire, PHQ; Post Traumatic Diagnostic Scale, PTDS).
One-month prevalence rate was 4.0% for DSM-IV PTSD; another 12.2% fulfilled the criteria of partial PTSD. A significant increase across the age groups was found for partial PTSD. 11.5% of the persons affected by posttraumatic symptomatology fulfil the criteria of a somatoform syndrome, 8.6% fulfil the criteria of major depression and 10.4% fulfil the criteria of other depressive syndromes according to the PHQ. A current posttraumatic symptomatology is associated with increased prevalence rates of somatoform and depressive disorders. Moreover, traumatic experiences without a current PTSD are associated with increased rates of somatoform disorders.
Posttraumatic symptomatology is a common phenomenon in the German elderly population. Especially, subsyndromal disorders are very common and increasing across the age groups. Posttraumatic symptomatology is associated with an increased risk of depressive and somatoform disorders. As posttraumatic symptoms are often neglected in geriatric health care, future effort should address the recognition and treatment of posttraumatic symptoms in elderly patients.