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2017 to 2022 Showed Increase in Prevalence of PTSD in College Students

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Significant increases seen in prevalence of posttraumatic stress disorder, acute stress disorder in adjusted analyses

By Elana Gotkine HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, May 30, 2024 (HealthDay News) — From 2017 to 2022, there were increases in the prevalence of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and acute stress disorder (ASD) among U.S. college students, according to a research letter published online May 30 in JAMA Network Open.

Yusen Zhai, Ph.D., and Xue Du, Ph.D., from the University of Alabama at Birmingham, examined trends in prevalence of diagnosed PTSD and ASD among U.S. college students from 2017 to 2022 in a serial cross-sectional study involving participants from five waves of the Healthy Minds Study across 332 U.S. higher education institutions.

The researchers found that 4.9 percent (weighted) of the 392,377 participants had diagnosed PTSD and 0.5 percent (weighted) had diagnosed ASD. From 2017 to 2022, there were upward trends in the prevalence of PTSD and ASD. From 2017-2018 to 2021-2022, the prevalence of PTSD increased 4.1 percent (from 3.4 to 7.5 percent) and that of ASD increased 0.5 percent (from 0.2 to 0.7 percent). The increases in prevalence of PTSD and ASD remained significant after adjustment for participants’ demographic differences (adjusted odds ratios, 2.15 and 2.25, respectively).

“These findings suggest the need for targeted, trauma-informed prevention and intervention strategies by mental health professionals and policy makers to support the affected student population,” the authors write.

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