Treatment of posttraumatic stress disorder: A review

Arieh Y. Shalev, Omer Bonne, Spencer Eth

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

178 Scopus citations


This article analyzes the literature on the treatment of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). It briefly exposes the theoretical basis for each treatment modality and extensively examines pharmacological, behavioral, cognitive, and psychodynamic therapies, as well as group and family therapies, hypnosis, inpatient treatment, and rehabilitation. Articles were identified by scanning Medline and PsychLit for all papers in English reporting treatment of PTSD. Anecdotal case reports were, then, excluded. Eighty one articles were identified and categorized as either biological or psychological, with the latter category further divided into behavioral, cognitive, psychodynamic, and other treatment modalities. Information regarding the type of trauma, the sample studied, the treatment method, and the results of the treatment has been extracted from each article and is presented briefly. A synthesis of findings in each area is provided. Most studies explored a single treatment modality (e.g., pharmacological, behavioral). The cumulated evidence from these studies suggests that several treatment protocols reduce PTSD symptoms and improve the patient's quality of life. The magnitude of the results, however, is often limited, and remission is rarely achieved. Given the shortcoming of unidimensional treatment of PTSD, it is suggested that combining biological, psychological, and psychosocial treatment may yield better results. It is further argued that rehabilitative goals should replace curative techniques in those patients with chronic PTSD. A framework for identifying targets for each treatment modality is presented.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)165-182
Number of pages18
JournalPsychosomatic medicine
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1996
Externally publishedYes


  • biopsychosocial framework
  • posttraumatic stress disorder

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Psychology(all)


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