From a JAMA press release:
Using a cognitive behavioral therapy called "prolonged exposure" appears more effective than "present-centered" therapy, a supportive intervention to treat female military veterans and active duty women with posttraumatic stress disorder, according to a study in the February 28 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).
"Events such as the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, the war in Iraq, and hurricane Katrina have focused attention on posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), an anxiety disorder that can result from exposure to traumatic events like combat, rape, assault, and disaster. Posttraumatic stress disorder is characterized by symptoms of re-experiencing the traumatic event, avoiding reminders of the event or feeling emotionally numb, and a state of increased psychological and physiological tension. The disorder is associated with psychiatric and physical illnesses, reduced quality of life, and substantial economic costs to society", according to background information in the article. "Lifetime prevalence in U.S. adults is higher in women (9.7 percent) than in men (3.6 percent) and is especially high among women who have served in the military." There has been no prior study to evaluate treatment for PTSD in this group.
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Paula P. Schnurr, Ph.D., of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) National Center for PTSD, White River Junction, Vt., and Dartmouth Medical School, Lebanon, N.H., and colleagues conducted a study to compare the effectiveness of two types of treatments for PTSD, prolonged exposure and present-centered therapy. Prolonged exposure is a cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) in which a patient is asked to vividly recount a traumatic event repeatedly until the patient's emotional response decreases and to gradually confront safe but fear-evoking trauma reminders. Present-centered therapy, a supportive intervention which is typically used by VA clinicians to address the problems of female veterans with PTSD, includes discussing and reviewing general daily difficulties that may be manifestations of PTSD.
The study found that prolonged exposure therapy decreased anxiety while quality of life was increased. More details at JAMA.
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