Unique relations between counterfactual thinking and DSM-5 PTSD symptom clusters.Psychol Trauma 2016; 8(3):293-300PT
Cognitive models of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) propose that rumination about a trauma may increase particular symptom clusters. One type of rumination, termed counterfactual thinking (CFT), refers to thinking of alternative outcomes for an event. CFT centered on a trauma is thought to increase intrusions, negative alterations in mood and cognitions (NAMC), and marked alterations in arousal and reactivity (AAR). The theorized relations between CFT and specific symptom clusters have not been thoroughly investigated. Also, past work has not evaluated whether the relation is confounded by depressive symptoms, age, gender, or number of traumatic events experienced.
The current study examined the unique associations between CFT and PTSD symptom clusters according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (American Psychiatric Association, 2013) in 51 trauma-exposed treatment-seeking individuals.
As predicted, CFT was associated with all PTSD symptom clusters. After controlling for common predictors of PTSD symptom severity (i.e., age, depressive symptoms, and number of traumatic life events endorsed), we found CFT to be significantly associated with the intrusion and avoidance symptom clusters but not the AAR or NAMC symptom clusters.
Results from the present study provide further support for the role of rumination in specific PTSD symptom clusters above and beyond symptoms of depression, age, and number of traumatic life events endorsed. Future work may consider investigating interventions to reduce rumination in PTSD. (PsycINFO Database Record