Trauma Exposure, DSM-5 Posttraumatic Stress, and Binge Eating Symptoms: Results From a Nationally Representative Sample

Joel Braun, MD, BSc; Renée El-Gabalawy, PhD; Jordana L. Sommer, BA(Hons); Robert H. Pietrzak, PhD, MPH; Karen Mitchell, PhD; and Natalie Mota, PhD

Published: October 22, 2019

Article Abstract

Objective: To evaluate the association between trauma exposure type, number and type of DSM-5 posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms, and binge eating symptoms.

Methods: Data were analyzed from the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions-III (NESARC-III: 2012-2013), which surveyed a nationally representative sample of 36,309 non-institutionalized US civilians aged 18 years and older. Trauma exposure, PTSD, and binge eating symptoms were assessed using the Alcohol Use Disorder and Associated Disabilities Interview Schedule, DSM-5 Version (AUDADIS-5). Three groups were compared: trauma-exposed individuals with no/low PTSD symptoms, those with subthreshold PTSD, and those with threshold PTSD.

Results: Among both men and women, zero-inflated negative binomial regression analyses demonstrated that individuals with subthreshold and threshold PTSD endorsed a greater number of binge eating symptoms than trauma-exposed individuals with no/low PTSD symptoms (unstandardized coefficient [B] range, 0.33-0.92). Relative to witnessing trauma, combat-related trauma was associated with fewer binge eating symptoms in men (B = −0.62, SE = 0.17), while child maltreatment was associated with a greater number of binge eating symptoms in women (B = 0.28, SE = 0.12). Negative cognitions and mood symptoms in particular were associated with a greater number of binge eating symptoms (B range, 0.09-0.10).

Conclusions: Subthreshold and threshold PTSD are associated with binge eating symptoms in both men and women. Similar to drugs and alcohol, binge eating may be used as a strategy to alleviate distressing symptoms of PTSD.

Volume: 80

Quick Links: PTSD , Trauma

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