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APA Launches Comprehensive Online Resource on Treatment for PTSD

The American Psychological Association (APA) has launched a comprehensive online resource to help psychologists and other mental health professionals, primary care providers, patients, and families learn about evidence-based treatments for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).


PTSD is an anxiety disorder that can develop after a person is exposed to a terrifying event or ordeal with the potential for or actual occurrence of grave physical harm. These can include violent personal assaults, natural or human-caused disasters, accidents, and military combat. People with PTSD have persistent frightening thoughts and memories of their ordeal. They may also experience sleep problems, feel detached or numb, or be easily startled. 


While some people believe that PTSD affects only those who have been injured in assaults, major catastrophes, or war, people can develop PTSD from other traumatic experiences, even those they only witnessed or that were experienced by somebody they care about. Johns Hopkins researchers found that nearly one-quarter of ICU survivors may suffer from PTSD.


The online APA resource includes:

•    APA’s Clinical Practice Guideline for the Treatment of PTSD in Adults   

•    Case examples of treatment interventions

•    Resources for patients and families to help them understand PTSD, its causes, its effects, and treatment options


“By making this information accessible online, we’re hoping that more people recognize that there are effective, evidenced-based treatments for PTSD and will seek out those options,” said APA CEO Arthur C. Evans Jr., PhD.


The guideline recommends eight interventions for treating adults with PTSD, four of which are “strongly recommended” and four of which are “conditionally recommended,” based on the strength and comprehensiveness of the scientific evidence. These include cognitive behavioral therapy, which focuses on changing patterns of behaviors, thoughts, and feelings that lead to difficulties in functioning; narrative exposure therapy, which helps individuals establish a life narrative to contextualize their experience; other psychotherapies; and medications. The recommendations are not intended to be mandates or to supplant clinician judgment, but to help guide healthcare providers and their patients in making decisions about treatment options.


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This article was adapted from information provided by APA.