Thesis Defense Announcement

The College of Arts and Sciences announces the Final Thesis Defense of

Nichole Mazzulo

for the Degree of Master of Science

on June 29, 2018 at 2:00 PM in Psychology Building, Room 108

Advisor: Meghan McDevitt-Murphy

Relations between Veterans' Coping Strategies and Symptoms of PTSD and Depression

ABSTRACT: Mental health problems, especially posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depression are significant concerns for veterans. Coping strategies may compound or alleviate mental health problems. Prior research shows maladaptive coping strategies are used by people with more severe PTSD and depression, while adaptive strategies are used by people who are more resilient. This study investigated how coping strategies, measured by the Brief Coping Orientations to Problems Experienced Scale, contribute to symptoms of PTSD, measured by the PTSD Checklist for DSM-5, and depression, measured by the Beck Depression Inventory-II, in two samples of veterans. Veterans recruited from a Veterans Affairs Medical Center (VAMC) included 55 veterans (12 women, 43 men; Mage = 36.58; 43.6% White, 45.5% Black). Student veterans enrolled at a university included 71 veterans (22 women, 49 men; Mage = 30.15; 69.0% White, 23.9% Black). Hierarchical linear regressions were conducted to determine the relative contribution of veterans' coping strategies to both PTSD severity and depression severity. Results for VAMC veterans showed composite approach coping and composite avoidant coping predicted PTSD and depression. Specifically, denial predicted greater PTSD severity, while behavioral disengagement and self-blame predicted higher depression severity. Acceptance predicted lower depression severity. For student veterans, composite avoidant coping predicted PTSD and depression. Self-blame and self-distraction predicted higher PTSD severity, while self-blame and behavioral disengagement predicted greater depression severity. Results show avoidant coping strategies are maladaptive; this suggests that treatments for both disorders should include interventions to reduce avoidant coping.