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, 16 (2), 227-37

Patient-reported Outcomes in Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Part II: Focus on Pharmacological Treatment


Patient-reported Outcomes in Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Part II: Focus on Pharmacological Treatment

Hans-Peter Kapfhammer. Dialogues Clin Neurosci.


Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) may be associated with long-lasting psychological suffering, distressing psychosocial disability, markedly reduced health-related quality of life, and increased morbidity and mortality in a subgroup of individuals in the aftermath of serious traumatic events. Both etiopathogenesis and treatment modalities of PTSD are best conceptualized within a biopsychosotial model. Pharmacotherapy may lay claim to a major role in the multimodal treatment approaches. Here we outline two different pharmacotherapeutic trends that aim to modify the encoding, consolidation, and rehearsal of traumatic memory in order to reduce the risk of PTSD immediately after trauma exposure on the one hand, and that endeavor to treat the clinical state of PTSD on the other. The theoretical rationales of both pharmacological strategies are the complex neurobiological underpinnings that characterize traumatic memory organization and clinical PTSD. Meanwhile, promising data from randomized controlled trials have been obtained for both approaches. Empirical evidence may inform clinicians in their clinical efforts for this special group of patients. The efficacy of several classes of drugs that have been investigated within a context of research should be evaluated critically and still have to stand the test of effectiveness in daily clinical practice. From a patient perspective, empirical results may serve as a psychoeducative guideline to what pharmacotherapeutic approaches may realistically achieve, what their risks and benefits are, and what their limits are in contributing to reducing the often major chronic suffering caused by serious traumatic events. Ethical issues have to be considered, particularly in the context of pharmacological strategies projected to prevent PTSD in the aftermath of traumatic exposure.

Keywords: PTSD; pharmacotherapy; prevention; trauma; trauma memory.

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