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date: 15 September 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Worldwide, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is among the most common psychological disorders; over the past three decades researchers have made considerable progress in understanding the prevalence of PTSD and its psychological and biological underpinnings, while developing methods for its assessment and treatment. Only included in the diagnostic nomenclature since 1980, the history of PTSD extends as far back as the oldest literature in Western civilization. Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey capture the impact of war on combatants and civilians, as do many of the works of writers and artists across the centuries. The focus of this chapter is on the integration of contemporary work on traumatic stress exposure, psychological dissociation, and the development of PTSD, a disorder characterized by concurrent high levels of anxiety and depression and, in many instances, considerable chronicity and disability. More than 50 randomized controlled treatment outcome studies suggest that cognitive- behavioral treatments are especially effective, and support the use of exposure therapy, stress management therapy, cognitive therapy, cognitive processing therapy, and eye movement desensitization and reprocessing in treating PTSD. All these approaches constitute key evidence-based psychological treatments for PTSD. Future work will determine which treatments used by which therapists are best for patients with specific symptoms and concomitant conditions.

Keywords: Dissociation, post-traumatic stress disorder, stress, trauma

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