Posttraumatic stress (PTSD) is a battle scar of sorts that many war veterans come home with. Although unseen by the naked eye, the symptoms of PTSD can be as debilitating as a physical injury. Servicemen and servicewomen with PTSD typically develop symptoms as a result of being exposed to a traumatic event during combat—watching someone die, for instance, or being wounded. Long after the physical scars heal, the psychological scars can persist if left untreated. Sadly, many military veterans who need treatment for PTSD do not seek it. Like civilians, veterans often avoid treatment due to the stigma associated with mental issues. For many soldiers, the idea of receiving psychological help could be threatening to their self-image and their belief that as a soldier, they should be strong enough to handle it.
There are several approaches in treating PTSD. Among the most widely accepted are prolonged exposure (PE) therapy (PE), virtual reality exposure therapy (VRE), and medication. PE and VRE have been shown to be highly successful in decreasing symptoms of PTSD, but barriers to treatment still exist. In order to determine which barriers inhibit soldiers from getting the treatment they need, Greg M. Reger, from the National Center for Telehealth and Technology at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington, interviewed 174 soldiers who served in Iraq and asked them to cite which of the three aforementioned treatment methods they would prefer and why.
The participants reported high levels of shame related to seeking treatment—in particular, pharmacological treatment. They voiced concerns about how medication would affect their careers, performance, and colleagues’ attitudes toward them. Most of the participants chose either VRE or PE over medication for these reasons. The participants also believed that exposure therapy would be more effective than medication at relieving them of their PTSD symptoms. “These findings can help inform provider education of treatment options and demonstrate the importance of considering patient reactions to a treatment plan, as preferences may impact adherence,” Reger added.
Reger, G. M., Durham, T. L., Tarantino, K. A., Luxton, D. D., Holloway, K. M., Lee, J. A. (2012). Deployed soldiers’ reactions to exposure and medication treatments for PTSD. Psychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice, and Policy. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1037/a0028409
© Copyright 2012 GoodTherapy.org. All rights reserved.
The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by GoodTherapy.org. Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.