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Honors Thesis-Unrestricted

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Sarah Black


Research has shown that both post-traumatic stress symptoms (PTSS) and depressive symptoms occur at high rates after traumatic events. Traumatic events can include a localized natural disaster, for instance, a hurricane, or a more global event, such as a pandemic, where stressors experienced during the events may trigger either of the symptomologies. This study focused on the association between hurricanes and current mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic. Specifically, I hypothesized that PTSS related to past hurricane exposure would be positively associated with depressive symptoms during the COVID-19 pandemic when controlling for known covariates of depressive symptoms. These covariates include income loss, age, minority status, and sex. Data were collected at the University of New Orleans through online self-report surveys between April and May of 2020. Participants were primarily Gulf Coast residents, over the age of 18 (M = 35.6, SD = 4.5), mostly male (68.1%), and with at least one minor child, who self-reported retrospective and current psychopathology symptoms. Regression analyses showed that both hurricane-related PTSS and sex were associated with higher depression symptom scores at the beginning of COVID-19. Income loss during COVID-19, minority status, and age were not significantly associated with either PTSS from a past hurricane or depressive symptoms during the COVID-19 pandemic. The results suggest that men may face more risk for future depressive symptoms during the COVID-19 pandemic after suffering from PTSS due to a past hurricane. These findings could be the result of a shared vulnerability or stress sensitization due to past psychopathology and/or differences in risk for particular traumatic events between men and women.


The University of New Orleans and its agents retain the non-exclusive license to archive and make accessible this honors thesis in whole or part in all forms of media, now or hereafter known. The author retains all other ownership rights to the copyright of the honors thesis.

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