One-year follow-up study of posttraumatic stress disorder among survivors of Cambodian concentration camps

Am J Psychiatry. 1985 Aug;142(8):956-9. doi: 10.1176/ajp.142.8.956.


One year after receiving a diagnosis of posttraumatic stress disorder, five of 12 Cambodian concentration camp survivors who entered a treatment program no longer met the diagnostic criteria for the disorder, and symptoms in three others had improved. The intrusive symptoms of nightmares, sleep disorders, and startle reactions showed the most consistent improvement. Avoidance behavior, shame, and caring for others improved the least. The authors advocate use of tricyclic antidepressant medication and a consistent, supportive long-term psychotherapeutic commitment in treating this severely traumatized group.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Antidepressive Agents / therapeutic use
  • Cambodia / ethnology
  • Concentration Camps*
  • Dreams
  • Employment
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Oregon
  • Prisons*
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Psychotherapy
  • Reflex, Startle
  • Refugees / psychology*
  • Shame
  • Sleep Wake Disorders / psychology
  • Sleep Wake Disorders / therapy
  • Social Adjustment
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / diagnosis*
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / psychology
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / therapy


  • Antidepressive Agents