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.
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