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Therapy aims to reduce PTSD symptoms for veterans

There is a lot of work being done in order to better understand post-traumatic stress disorder. The hope is that more research can be done in order to better treat those suffering with PTSD.

Recently, a study on prolonged exposure therapy was conducted on veterans. The study suggests that repeat exposure to the memories may actually help treat PTSD

With PTSD, avoidance of situations and places that could remind one of the traumas is typical. However, this study suggests that repeatedly confronting the memories and situations actually empowers the veterans and gives them control over the memories. In turn, this exposure was shown to reduce their PTSD and depression scores. 

The study included 1,931 veterans. Researchers scored the veterans' self-reporting PTSD symptoms. This came out to a number falling on a scale of 17 to 85. Those with scores 50 and above are suggestive of a PTSD diagnosis. 

Prior to the study, the average PTSD score among the veterans was 63, with 88 percent meeting the score suggestive of diagnosis. After the therapy, the average PTSD score decreased to 48 and only 46 percent still met the diagnosis score. 

Same was true with depression too. While the average score among veterans was 30, which translates to moderate to severe depression, after therapy the score decreased to 21. 

Of course, this is all good news. However, it does not necessarily mean that everyone who suffers from PTSD can simply go through prolonged exposure therapy and go back to living a normal life. Rather, this study just suggests another tool that may be available.

In general, PTSD is often misunderstood. While someone may appear to be fine when out with friends and family, inside he or she can still be worried about having their next episode. In some cases, those suffering with PTSD can even become stuck in the traumatic event and are unable to live a normal life or hold down a job. In those types of situations, Social Security disability insurance benefits may be available. 

Source: Fox News, "'Prolonged exposure' therapy may help vets with PTSD," July 18, 2013

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