Background: Prescription rates for major classes of psychotropic medication
were examined among respondents with and without histories of trauma and PTSD. While
traumatized patients access primary health care at higher rates than normative counterparts,
the extent to which they rely on psychiatric medications has not been well established.
Methods: This study surveyed college (N=2,320) and national (N=663) respondents.
Trauma history was defined using the primary DSM-5 diagnostic criterion for Post-
Traumatic Stress Disorder. Four hypotheses were tested: 1) medication reliance was expected
to occur more frequently among respondents reporting a trauma history and PTSD
than normative counterparts; 2) medication reliance was expected to occur more frequently
among respondents reporting a trauma history without PTSD than normative (no trauma)
counterparts; 3) gender differences in these associations between trauma exposure and
medication history were not expected; 4) associations between trauma exposure and medication
history were expected to be similar for college and national respondents.
Results: Support was found for these four hypotheses. Significant associations between
self-reported trauma and reliance on psychotropic medications remained even after control
of variance associated with gender, sample composition, and PTSD diagnosis. Recollections
of a traumatic event as defined by the DSM-V criteria for PTSD increased the odds of
being prescribed five different classes of psychiatric medication.
Conclusion: Trauma exposure both with and without co-occurring mental health conditions
was associated with higher reliance on psychotrophic medications. The clinical implications
of these patterns remain unclearly delineated. The cross-sectional correlation
analyses relied upon in this study precluded meaningful onferences regarding the causality
and/or directionality of these relationships.