College of Psychology Theses and Dissertations

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Date of Award

1-1-2012

Document Type

Dissertation - NSU Access Only

Degree Name

Doctor of Psychology (PhD)

Department

Center for Psychological Studies

First Advisor

Jeffrey Kibler

Second Advisor

Steven N. Gold

Third Advisor

Edward R Simco

Keywords

Childhood Abuse, Depression, Dissociation, Interleukin-1, Interleukin-6, Posttraumatic Stress Disorder

Abstract

Exposure to traumatic events can lead to many varied psychological and physiological difficulties, including an increased risk for chronic physical health problems and chronic pain disorders, which are thought to be mediated through the three major biological systems involved in the human stress response. The objective of the present study was to examine the relationships between psychological symptoms and proinflammatory immune markers, Interleukin-1β (IL-1β) and Interleukin-6 (IL-6), which are thought to be related to many of the physical health problems associated with posttraumatic psychopathology.

Female participants (N=12) were recruited from a trauma specialty clinic and participated in approximately one research session per month for up to one year of psychotherapy. Five participants had at least three data points and were further examined for longitudinal correlations. Baseline measurements of urinary IL-1β were associated with self-report measures of trait anxiety and dissociative symptoms. One participant, who completed nine research sessions over nearly 12 months, showed improvements in depressive symptoms, state and trait anxiety, and dissociative symptoms that seemed to correspond with decreases in IL-6. IL-1β did not seem to be related to any of her symptom measures. A second participant, with five data points over almost four months, showed less marked change in symptomatology, but her IL-6 levels seemed to correspond with depressive and dissociative symptoms, and her IL-1β levels seemed to be associated with trends in state anxiety and dissociative symptoms. Three other participants had between three and four data points, and the trends obtained were inadequate to determine whether any true relationship existed among the longitudinal variables. These results provide preliminary evidence that it may be possible to reduce chronic pro-inflammatory dysregulation through psychotherapy-facilitated symptom reduction.

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