Ryan Conrad, “The Effect of Rumination on PTSD in Veterans Exposed to War Zones”
Mentors: Han Joo Lee & Abel S. Mathew, Psychology
Research has shown a relationship between posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depression (Orsillo et al., 1996). A common depressive symptom is rumination, which is a process of negative repetitive or obsessive thinking. The purpose of this study was to evaluate whether rumination was a predictor of PTSD symptom severity for veterans in a war zone (WZVs) versus those who did not serve in a war zone (NWZVs). We predicted that ruminative symptoms would be present in those exposed to a war zone as well as those not exposed to a war zone. Thirteen WZVs and 16 NWZVs from the Milwaukee VA Medical Center were recruited for a larger study evaluating working memory training for PTSD. Participants were given the following questionnaires: the Rumination Response Scale (RRS) and the PTSD Checklist for DSM-5 (PCL-5). The RRS is a self-report questionnaire related to the ruminative thinking processes about the presence and persistence of depressive symptoms. The PCL-5 is a self-report questionnaire that measures the severity of PTSD symptoms that are found in the DSM-5. We found that rumination scores for WZVs are significantly associated with overall PTSD symptom severity scores (F(1, 11)=8.43, r2=.434, p=.014). However, rumination scores were not associated with overall PTSD severity scores for NWZVs (F(1, 14)=1.01, r2=.067, p=.33). These findings suggest that rumination is potentially more harmful in WZVs compared to NWZVs. A potential limitation for our study was the small sample size used. Future research could look at the relationship between rumination and PTSD in individuals that are civilians rather than just people in the military.