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Longitudinal Study of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, Depression, and Changes in Traumatic Memories Over Time in Bosnian Refugees

Mollica, Richard F. MD, MAR*; Caridad, Kathleen Rey BA*; Massagli, Michael P. PhD

The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease: July 2007 - Volume 195 - Issue 7 - p 572-579
doi: 10.1097/NMD.0b013e318093ed2c
Original Article

This longitudinal study examined traumatic memory consistency over a 3-year period among a sample of highly traumatized Bosnian refugees, focusing on demographic factors, types of trauma, and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depression. In 1996 and 1999, 376 Bosnian refugees were interviewed about 54 wartime trauma and torture events, and symptoms of PTSD and depression. Reports were compared for both time periods, and changed responses were analyzed for significance. Overall, there was consistency in reporting over time; when change occurred it was in the direction of decreased reports at follow-up. This downward trend was not associated with any particular diagnosis. However, PTSD alone, without comorbid symptoms of depression, was uniquely associated with the group that exhibited an upward trend. This implies that increased reporting is related specifically to the presence of PTSD symptoms, and that PTSD may be distinctly associated with the failed extinction of traumatic memories.

*Harvard Program in Refugee Trauma, Massachusetts General Hospital, Cambridge, Massachusetts; and †Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston, Massachusetts.

Supported by the National Institute of Mental Health, Bethesda, Maryland, grant MH 57806-02.

Send reprint requests to Dr. Mollica, Harvard Program in Refugee Trauma, 22 Putnam Avenue, Cambridge, MA, 02139. E-mail:

© 2007 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.