Title

Posttraumatic stress disorder and deliberate self-harm among military veterans: Indirect effects through negative and positive emotion dysregulation

Document Type

Article

Date of Original Version

10-1-2020

Abstract

Objective: Military veterans with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) exhibit heightened rates of deliberate self-harm, yet few studies have explored underlying mechanisms. Addressing this critical gap in the literature, the present study examined the roles of negative and positive emotion dysregulation in the relation between PTSD severity and deliberate self-harm. Method: Data were collected from 465 trauma-exposed military veterans in the community (Mage = 38.00, 71.4% male, 69.5% White) who responded to an online survey. Results: Findings indicated that PTSD severity was indirectly related to deliberate self-harm through overall positive (but not negative) emotion dysregulation. Secondary analyses indicated an underlying role of the negative emotion dysregulation domains of difficulties controlling impulsive behaviors when experiencing negative emotions and lack of emotional clarity and the positive emotion dysregulation domains of nonacceptance of positive emotions, difficulties engaging in goal-directed behavior when experiencing positive emotions, and difficulties controlling impulsive behaviors when experiencing positive emotions in the association between PTSD severity and deliberate self-harm. Conclusions: This study offers preliminary evidence for specific domains of negative and positive emotion dysregulation as possible pathways linking PTSD severity and deliberate self-harm. Findings highlight new avenues for research and treatment focused on the effects of emotion dysregulation on deliberate self-harm among trauma-exposed military veterans.

Publication Title

Psychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice, and Policy

Volume

12

Issue

7

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