The Effects of Depression on Hypertension in Females with Military Sexual Trauma (MST)-Related PTSD
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BACKGROUND: Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depression have been linked with cardiovascular disease, specifically hypertension. Additionally, PTSD and major depression independently increase the likelihood of hypertension. Military sexual trauma (MST) is also associated with greater psychiatric and cardiovascular symptom severity. Comorbid depression and PTSD have an established relationship with hypertension; however, this association has yet to be studied in female veterans with MST-related PTSD. SUBJECTS: Data were used from baseline assessments of a recently published randomized clinical trial (RTC), with information from 113 female veterans with MST-related PTSD used for the present study. Only female veterans were included in the present study METHOD: A retrospective electronic chart review was conducted to determine the presence or absence of hypertension. Baseline diagnosis of comorbid major depressive disorder (Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-IV), and depression symptom severity (Beck Depression Inventory-II) were used in statistical analyses to examine the relationship between depression and hypertension in the sample. RESULTS: Neither comorbid major depressive disorder nor depression symptom severity were significant risk factors for hypertension in the sample. Subsequent exploratory analyses produced an expected finding that African American/Black race was associated with hypertension in our sample. DISCUSSION: Providers should be aware of the risk for hypertension in female veterans with MST-related PTSD who identify as African American regardless of the presence of comorbid depression or greater depressive symptom severity. Future researchers should expand upon our findings by examining the effect of age as well as comorbid physical health disorders (e.g., diabetes, hyperlipidemia) on hypertension in women with MST-related PTSD.