Self-stigma predicts post-traumatic and depressive symptoms in traumatized individuals seeking interventions for dissociative symptoms: a preliminary investigation

Hong Wang Fung*, Emma Černis, Michelle Hei Yan Shum*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

Abstract

Background: Previous studies showed that self-stigma is associated with poor clinical outcomes in people with serious mental illness, and is associated with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). However, less is known about self-stigma in people with dissociative symptoms, which are often related to psychological trauma. This study examined whether baseline self-stigma would be associated with dissociative, PTSD and depressive symptoms at post-intervention, after controlling for treatment usage and baseline symptom severity, in a sample of traumatized Chinese adults undertaking a psychoeducation intervention for dissociative symptoms. Methods: We conducted a secondary analysis of data from a 60-day web-based psychoeducation programme. A total of 58 participants who provided data before and after the intervention were included for analysis. Hierarchical regression analyses were conducted. Results: In this highly traumatized, dissociative, and symptomatic help-seeking sample, baseline self-stigma was associated with PTSD (β =.203, p =.032) and depressive (β =.264, p =.025) symptoms at post-intervention, even after controlling for baseline symptom severity, age, location, number of sessions attended in the web-based psychoeducation programme, and use of psychological treatments for PTSD/dissociative symptoms. However, self-stigma was not associated with dissociative symptoms (p =.108). Conclusions: This is the first study showing that self-stigma is a significant predictor of comorbid symptoms (i.e. PTSD and depressive symptoms) in people seeking interventions for dissociative symptoms. The findings that post-traumatic and dissociative symptoms have different relationships to self-stigma also highlight the possibility dissociation might be an independent psychological construct closely associated with trauma, but not merely a PTSD symptom, although further studies are necessary. The preliminary findings call for more efforts to understand, prevent, and address self-stigma in people with trauma-related mental health issues such as dissociative symptoms.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2251778
Number of pages9
JournalEuropean Journal of Psychotraumatology
Volume14
Issue number2
Early online date8 Sept 2023
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2023

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health

User-Defined Keywords

  • dissociation
  • dissociative disorder
  • PTSD
  • Self-stigma
  • trauma

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