Objective: A recent meta-analysis found that DSM-III- and DSM-IV-defined traumas were associated with only slightly higher posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms than nontraumatic stressors. The current study is the first to examine whether DSM-5-defined traumas were associated with higher levels of PTSD than DSM-IV-defined traumas. Further, we examined theoretically relevant event characteristics to determine whether characteristics other than those outlined in the DSM could predict PTSD symptoms. Method: One hundred six women who had experienced a trauma or significant stressor completed questionnaires assessing PTSD, depression, impairment, and event characteristics. Events were rated for whether they qualified as DSM-IV and DSM-5 trauma. Results: There were no significant differences between DSM-IV-defined traumas and stressors. For DSM-5, effect sizes were slightly larger but still nonsignificant (except for significantly higher hyperarousal following traumas vs. stressors). Self-reported fear for one's life significantly predicted PTSD symptoms. Conclusions: Our results indicate that the current DSM-5 definition of trauma, although a slight improvement from DSM-IV, is not highly predictive of who develops PTSD symptoms. Our study also indicates the importance of individual perception of life threat in the prediction of PTSD.

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