Latest developments in post-traumatic stress disorder: diagnosis and treatment

Br Med Bull. 2015 Jun;114(1):147-55. doi: 10.1093/bmb/ldv014. Epub 2015 Apr 22.


Background: Most people will experience a traumatic event during their lives. However, not all will develop Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). There have been recent changes in diagnostic criteria for PTSD and there are a number of treatment options available.

Sources of data: This review is based on published literature in the field of PTSD, its management and the recently published DSM-V.

Areas of agreement: The most influential risk factors relate to the post-incident environment rather than pre-incident or the incident itself. There are two established and effective psychological therapies; trauma-focussed cognitive behavioural therapy and eye movement desensitization and reprocessing.

Areas of controversy: It is unclear what actually constitutes a traumatic event. Psychological debriefing or counselling interventions, shortly after trauma-exposure are found to be ineffective and may cause harm. Medication, whilst common practice, is not recommended as first line management.

Growing points: Future psychotherapies for PTSD may be just as effective if delivered in carefully considered group settings or through remote means.

Areas timely for developing research: Research into the most effective ways to prevent individuals at risk of developing PTSD is still at an early stage and development of effective early interventions could substantially reduce the morbidity associated with PTSD.

Keywords: CBT; EMDR; PTSD; trauma.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy / methods
  • Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing / methods
  • Humans
  • Prevalence
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / diagnosis*
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / epidemiology
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / etiology
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / therapy*
  • United Kingdom / epidemiology