Preventing Posttraumatic Stress Disorder by Facing Trauma Memories

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PTSD

Via Science Daily

Nov. 27, 2012 — Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a form of learning that begins at the moment of the exposure to extremely stressful situations and that grows in impact as trauma-related memories are rehearsed and strengthened repeatedly. This somewhat oversimplified view of PTSD yields a powerful prediction: if one could disrupt the rehearsal and strengthening of traumatic memories, a process called reconsolidation of memories, then one might reduce PTSD risk or PTSD severity after potentially traumatic events.

To be certain, it is tricky to attempt to alter traumatic memory reconsolidation. In fact, some early strategies for “trauma debriefing” turned out to strengthen rather than diminish posttraumatic learning.

Despite these challenges, a new study by Dr. Barbara Rothbaum and colleagues reports that a behavioral intervention delivered to patients immediately post-trauma is effective at reducing posttraumatic stress reactions. Continue reading

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