Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Master of Science (M.S.)

Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

Kristen Salomon, Ph.D.

Committee Member

David Diamond, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Jonathan Rottenberg, Ph.D.


PTSD, Veterans, reactivity, stress, allostatic load


This study expanded the current literature by assessing PTSD in relation to reactivity and recovery from negative emotional arousal among OEF/OIF/OND Veterans. Cardiac impedance was employed during a speech task and a trauma imagery procedure. Those in the PTSD-S group displayed lower SBP and higher TPR reactivity relative to the PTSD- and PTSD+ groups; lower CO reactivity relative to the PTSD+ group; and more CO recovery than those in the PTSD+ group to the trauma task. For speech task, Veterans in the PTSD-S group exhibited lower HR reactivity for both speech preparation and delivery than those in the PTSD- group. Depression was not a significant mediator in the relation between PTSD and reactivity. However, further analyses revealed that it served as a moderator between PTSD and reactivity during speech preparation (SBP, HR, and PEP reactivity), and speech delivery (HR, PEP, and CO reactivity). Simple slopes analysis revealed that depression was positively associated with HR and SBP (speech preparation) and HR (speech delivery) for those in the PTSD-S group. For those in the PTSD- group, depression was positively associated with PEP during the speech task (to include preparation) and negatively associated with SBP and CO (speech preparation) and HR and CO (speech delivery). For those in the PTSD+ group, depression was negatively associated with CO and positively associated with PEP. For the most part, Veterans in the PTSD-S group exhibited lower reactivity to both tasks than Veterans in the PTSD+ group or combat-exposed controls without PTSD. In light of the emerging evidence relating blunted reactivity to unhealthy behaviors and negative health outcomes (e.g., depression, obesity), it would appear that both extremes, exaggerated and diminished reactivity are maladaptive responses to stress and that the most optimally response to stress is a moderate reaction.