Revising accepted PTSD treatment may lead to effective therapy: NHMRC study

Only 50-60% of patients with post-traumatic stress disorder recover with current treatment and of these, 30% relapse, a fact QUT psychology postdoctoral researcher Dr. intention to change with a five-year study funded by a $665,150 NHMRC. Research Fellowship.

  • Up to 50% of people treated for PTSD do not recover
  • Most treatments based on a paradigm unchanged for decades
  • A five-year study will validate the experimental paradigm and drug targets to enable more effective treatment.

Dr Ney said PTSD was a highly debilitating disorder that resulted in extremely significant economic burden and levels of partial disability, rivaling other major psychiatric disorders including depression and schizophrenia.

“Most psychological treatments for PTSD are based on experimental ‘fear extinction’ studies and it is unclear whether they sufficiently match the mechanisms and symptoms of PTSD in real-world PTSD patients” , said Dr. Ney.

“Fear extinction studies are currently being used to identify neurobiological targets – for example, stress hormones – that might be suitable for pharmaceutical therapy of PTSD and human clinical trials.

“This study relies heavily on the presumption that fear extinction paradigms are relevant to the treatment of patients with PTSD.

Dr Luke Ney

“Although we have seen an exponential increase in studies of fear extinction – 300 in 2015 – this has not resulted in any substantial change in its clinical corollary, ‘exposure therapy’.

“Exposure therapy aims to extinguish the fear and anxiety of PTSD by asking the patient to revisit the traumatic event to become gradually desensitized to it.

“Because, at this time, we do not have a rigorously validated experimental paradigm for PTSD, my research focuses on the development of experimental methods that will allow us to identify and precisely address the underlying memory processes trauma-related behaviors that occur in PTSD.

“My program will likely be the first in the 100-year history of the fear extinction paradigm to systematically and rigorously validate and redefine this experience, leading to a vastly improved ability of researchers to improve current interventions for these common but impactful disorders.”

Dr. Ney’s research program, Fear extinction as an experimental model for PTSD treatment and course, will include at least one doctoral student and several honors or master’s level students and a research assistant.

/University release. This material from the original organization/authors may be ad hoc in nature, edited for clarity, style and length. The views and opinions expressed are those of the author or authors. See in full here.

About Antoine L. Cassell

Check Also

A life-saving treatment on the other side of the world

TAKING FLIGHT: Sarah McDowell has been battling multiple sclerosis for nearly five years and hopes …