How We Treat Posttraumatic Stress Disorder


Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is an uncomfortable response that can follow exposure to 1 or more dangerous or frighteningly traumatic circumstances. Symptoms often include intrusive thoughts, insomnia, nightmares, flashbacks, avoidance behaviors, and hypervigilance or related emotionally troubling experiences. When overtly present, PTSD induces considerable emotional, social, occupational, and interpersonal dysfunctions. Psychotherapy is a commonly recommended initial intervention. There are a wide variety of techniques available. Psychotherapy can also be utilized as a preventative measure when intervention is available in the immediate aftermath of exposure to a potentially precipitating event. Most combat veterans with PTSD at Veterans Administration medical centers in the United States are prescribed pharmacotherapy. Different antidepressant, antipsychotic, adrenergic, and anticonvulsant medications are most commonly utilized. Optimal intervention for patients experiencing PTSD often includes prolonged follow-up that applies both talk and drug therapies in a supportive environment. This narrative review describes psychotherapeutic and pharmacologic approaches to treat PTSD.

Prim Care Companion CNS Disord 2021;23(1):19nr02572

To cite: Pary R, Micchelli AN, Lippmann S. How we treat posttraumatic stress disorder. Prim Care Companion CNS Disord. 2021;23(1):19m02572.
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© Copyright 2021 Physicians Postgraduate Press, Inc.

aVeterans Administration Medical Center, Louisville, Kentucky
bDepartment of Psychiatry, University of Louisville School of Medicine, Louisville, Kentucky
*Corresponding author: Steven Lippmann, MD, 410 East Chestnut St #610, Louisville, KY 40202 (

Prim Care Companion CNS Disord. 2021;23(1):19nr02572.

Quick Links: Anxiety , Psychopharmacology , Psychotherapy , PTSD , Trauma

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