Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Dr. C. Richard Spates


Anxiety is a common problem among the college population, which rarely occurs in isolation. Oftentimes, an individual abuses substances in an attempt to eliminate the short term affect of these conditions. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), is the most persistent and severe type of anxiety disorder. It has been a long-standing belief within the psychological community that in order for PTSD to develop, the individual must first experience a traumatic event which meets certain criteria and must evidence a definable emotional response during the event. A recent study found PTSD in individuals who had not experienced the type of trauma described in the DSM-IV-TR, but had experienced long-term general life stressors. The pur-pose of the present pilot study was to determine if people with substance abuse disorder, who also reported high levels of anxiety and who had been excluded from a previous study based on enrollment criteria, also showed qualifying PTSD symptoms without a qualifying trigger event. The purpose was to determine if a larger scale study was merited. Participants completed a series of questionnaires on life stressors, trauma history, anxiety, depression, and substance use. They also completed a semi-structured clinical interview to evaluate PTSD symptoms. The results indicated that on most depression and anxiety measures, the groups were not significantly different from each other despite the presence or absence of a DSM-IV-TR trauma qualifying event. Furthermore, clinical levels of PTSD symptoms were found among several individuals who had not experienced a traumatic event, indicating that a larger scale study is warranted.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access