Post-traumatic stress disorder

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609 Scopus citations


Although most people will gradually recover from the psychological effects of a traumatic event, PTSD will develop in a substantial proportion. PTSD appears to represent a failure to recover from a nearly universal set of emotions and reactions and is typically manifested as distressing memories or nightmares related to the traumatic event, attempts to avoid reminders of the trauma, and a heightened state of physiological arousal. Studies of the biologic mechanisms of PTSD have delineated circumscribed alterations in brain regions, such as the amygdala and hippocampus, that are associated with fear and memory, as well as changes in hormonal, neurochemical, and physiological systems involved in coordinating the body's response to stress. The treatment of PTSD involves educating the patient about the nature of the disorder, providing a safe and supportive environment for discussing traumatic events and their impact, and relieving the distress associated with memories and reminders of the event. A variety of approaches, such as exposure therapy, cognitive therapy, and pharmacotherapy, have been found to be effective in the treatment of PTSD.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)108-114
Number of pages7
JournalNew England Journal of Medicine
Issue number2
StatePublished - 10 Jan 2002
Externally publishedYes


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