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A study released by a team of researchers at Brown University reveals that civilians affected by PTSD don’t have many options available to heal.
The study, published in the Harvard Review of psychiatry found that the Defense Department and the Veterans Health Administration provide multiple resources to veterans suffering from PTSD. Compared to that, non-veterans suffering from the disorder can’t find many resources or information available to them.
The post-traumatic stress disorder can affect victims of many types of trauma, from sexual assault to child abuse and even natural disasters. Civilian trauma survivors aren’t guided by any organized organism on how they should deal with their condition. The same lack of guidelines also affects caregivers and therapists, who are forced to make their own programs.
According to Judith Bentkover, lead author of the study, we know that factors such as race, gender and culture influence the way in which people are dealing with anxiety but there is no enough research on how PTSD should be treated in different categories of people and vulnerable groups. The research done up to this moment doesn’t provide data on how to treat groups of patients suffering of PTSD neither by the cause which triggered the disorder nor by the sociodemographic affiliation.
Bentkover claims that researchers should organize better and make sure to provide information for all caregivers, patients and treatment providers.
Even if her interest in PTSD started as an interest for treating veterans, Bentkover realized in time that PTSD is not a disease of veterans, as it is commonly known. Women and children are very often victims of trauma and a very large number of them suffer from PTSD.
Also, people can develop PTSD following terrorism or other acts of mass violence, as it was the case for thousands of New Yorkers after 9/11.
Bentkover argues that if untreated, PTSD might lead to more serious mental health problems which are harder to treat and might cost more in terms of healthcare. Also, people without access to treatment are less productive and may even become jobless or homeless as a result. So besides being a major healthcare problem, it is also a huge cost for the society.
Authors of the paper have issued a series of recommendations which should improve access to treatment and information for non-veterans with PTSD: further research is needed regarding the costs, access and outcomes of treatment; research should be specialized on causes (e.g. terrorism) and populations (e.g. children or women) and finally, a patient-centered institute needs to be established.
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