May 9, 2018 - Recent advances in scientific understanding of how posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) develops and persists may lead to more effective treatment and even prevention of this debilitating disorder, according to the May/June special issue of Harvard Review of Psychiatry, published by Wolters Kluwer.
A growing body of evidence helps psychiatrists to understand the aspects of brain structure and function involved in PTSD, informing efforts to interrupt the processes leading to the development of PTSD symptoms in traumatized individuals, according to an introductory article by Guest Editor Kerry J. Ressler, MD, PhD, of McLean Hospital/Harvard Medical School, Belmont, Mass. Dr. Ressler writes: "PTSD, while one of the most recently defined syndromes in psychiatry, may also be one of the earliest to benefit from progress in neurobiology and advances in translational approaches to brain function and behavior."
Understanding Dysfunctional Fear and Emotional Processes May Improve Treatment for PTSD
Dr. Ressler notes that patients with PTSD have "characteristic reexperiencing, avoidance, and hyperarousal symptoms," which can persist for months or years after exposure to traumatic events. Posttraumatic stress disorder affects about 6 percent of the population, but the rate is much higher in groups exposed to severe trauma, such as combat veterans, refugees, and assault victims.
Although PTSD is at least partly genetic, it also depends on personal history of trauma in childhood and adulthood, as well as psychological factors linked to mediation of fear and regulation of emotions. "Therefore, PTSD is among the most likely of psychiatric disorders to be understood from the perspective of environmental influences interacting with biological vulnerability," according to Dr. Ressler. The special issue provides expert updates in four key areas related to the development, diagnosis, and management of PTSD:
While current treatments do address the underlying mechanisms of PTSD, many patients do not improve or continue having symptoms, while others might have a better response to individualized treatment approaches. "Advances in neurobiology and behavioral science are needed for truly targeted, innovative, robust treatments and preventions," Dr. Ressler concludes.
About the Harvard Review of Psychiatry
The Harvard Review of Psychiatry is the authoritative source for scholarly reviews and perspectives on a diverse range of important topics in psychiatry. Founded by the Harvard Medical School Department of Psychiatry, the journal is peer reviewed and not industry sponsored. It is the property of Harvard University and is affiliated with all of the Departments of Psychiatry at the Harvard teaching hospitals. Articles encompass major issues in contemporary psychiatry, including neuroscience, epidemiology, psychopharmacology, psychotherapy, history of psychiatry, and ethics.
About Wolters Kluwer
Wolters Kluwer is a global leader in professional information, software solutions, and services for the health, tax & accounting, finance, risk & compliance, and legal sectors. We help our customers make critical decisions every day by providing expert solutions that combine deep domain knowledge with specialized technology and services.
Wolters Kluwer, headquartered in the Netherlands, reported 2017 annual revenues of €4.4 billion. The company serves customers in over 180 countries, maintains operations in over 40 countries, and employs approximately 19,000 people worldwide.
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