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Educational Activity

Posttraumatic Stress Disorder: Characteristics and Treatment

Thomas Mellman, MD, and R. Bruce Lydiard, MD, PhD, Chair

Published: January 15, 2008

Article Abstract

This Distance Rounds reviews the DSM-IV definition of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and associated features. PTSD is a prevalent mental health problem that occurs in some people after combat or civilian trauma and is influenced by certain risk factors. Psychotherapy and pharmacotherapy have both been found efficacious, and treatment selection should be tailored to the individual patient. Pharmacotherapy options include selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, tricyclic antidepressants, monoamine oxidase inhibitors, atypical antipsychotics, mood stabilizers, and medications for trauma-related nightmares. Treatment often involves multiple modalities.

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