Differences in the Symptoms of Complex PTSD and PTSD in North Korean Defectors by Trauma Type

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Kim, Hee Kyung

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Center for Social Sciences, Seoul National University
Korean Social Sciences Review(KSSR), Vol.4 No.1, pp. 65-92
North Korean defectorcomplex post-traumatic stress disorderposttraumatic stress disordertraumadepression
The purpose of this research was to explore the varying levels of complex post-traumatic stress disorder (Complex PTSD), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms and depression in North Korean defectors according to the type of trauma. The study was conducted on 531 North Korean defectors (170 males and 361 females) in Hanawon(resettlement center for North Korean defectors). 432 (81.4%) of the subject population experienced ≥1 traumatic events. Those with ≥4 traumatic experiences scored higher on complex PTSD and PTSD symptoms, and they had higher levels of depression compared to those who had or had not experienced 1~3 traumatic events. Analysis of different types of traumatic events found that the survivors of interpersonal trauma or serious illness had higher levels of complex PTSD, PTSD symptoms and depression than others. No significant difference was found across all symptoms between those who had and had not experienced noninterpersonal trauma. Among the trauma survivors, 11.3% were diagnosed with complex PTSD, 14.6% with PTSD, and 26.2% with both. The rate of dual diagnosis was high among those with interpersonal trauma or serious illness. The dual diagnosis group exhibited significantly higher levels of depression than the complex PTSD or PTSD group. Logistic regression analysis found that those with interpersonal trauma were 2.11 times more likely to receive a diagnosis of complex PTSD than non-diagnosed group. Those with interpersonal trauma or serious illness were 2.39 times and 2.85 times more likely to receive a dual diagnosis than non-diagnosed group, respectively. There was no particular trauma type that discriminated between the PTSD group and the non-diagnosed group. This study suggests that it is the type of traumatic event rather than the frequency or amount that is more important in the diagnosis of complex PTSD and PTSD in North Korean defectors. This paper discussed the implications of the research findings for the diagnosis and treatment of PTSD in North Korean defectors and proposed directions for future research.
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College of Social Sciences (사회과학대학)Center for Social Sciences (사회과학연구원)Korean Social Sciences Review (KSSR)Korean Social Sciences Review (KSSR) Vol.04, No.01-02 (2014)
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