Can you prevent PTSD?


Lots of people experience a traumatic event at some point in their life: only a few, however, will go on to develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

If we could work out who was likely to develop PTSD, we could perhaps do something to prevent it taking hold.

For a while, there was a fashion for giving people who’d experienced a traumatic event a “debriefing” with a counsellor, on the basis that if they could talk about it soon after it happened, they could get it out of their system.

This turned out to be counter-productive. Mental recovery from a trauma depends on being able to convert short-term memories into long-term ones. (PTSD sufferers experience a past trauma as if it had just happened, experiencing flashbacks and anxiety symptoms.) Talking about the event soon after it has happened, however, does the opposite: it keeps the memories fresh.

So the more…

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