Post-traumatic stress disorder and its treatment options literature review

Viltė Fominskytė1

1Lithuanian University of Health Sciences, Academy of Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, Kaunas, Lithuania


Background. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is possibly the most common mental disorder that occurs after a traumatic event, with a prevalence of about 3.9 percent in the general population. PTSD causes impaired functioning in personal, social, professional areas of life and is associated with faster aging, increased risk of chronic diseases and early death. The difficulties caused by this disorder call for the identification of effective treatments for PTSD.

Aim. Based on the latest literature, to present and analyze PTSD treatment methods.

Materials and methods. The literature review was performed using Pubmed and Google Scholar databases. Keywords used during the search and their combinations in English: “post-traumatic stress disorder”, “treatment”, “eye movement desensitization and reprocessing”, “trauma focused cognitive behavioral therapy”, “cognitive processing therapy”, “prolonged exposure”, “cognitive therapy for post-traumatic stress disorder”, “pharmacotherapy”. The literature on the treatment of PTSD in children and adolescents was not examined. More than 20 articles in English published between 2013 and 2023 were included in the review.

Results. Psychotherapy may provide more effective and longer-lasting improvement in PTSD than medication. Pharmacotherapy is recommended as a second-line option and should be considered in the presence of comorbidities, insufficient response to primary treatment, lack of access to psychotherapy, or as a matter of personal patient preference. New treatment perspectives are seen in methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA) assisted psychotherapy.

Conclusions. Brief trauma-focused cognitive behavioral and eye movement desensitization and reprocessing therapies are currently the most effective of the available research-based treatments for PTSD.

Keywords: post-traumatic stress disorder, cognitive behavioral therapy, psychotherapy.

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