Among the military personnel returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, PTSD is the most commonly diagnosed service related mental disorder. The vast majority of people who experience this disorder also have other concurrent conditions, such as alcoholism, depression, drug use, or anxiety disorders. (Sexual assault during military service is another factor that can lead to PTSD among service members.
Treatment for PTSD includes both drugs and psychotherapeutic intervention.
Recent research, funded by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, examined 53 studies of pharmaceuticals used for the treatment of PTSD, and 37 studies involving different psychotherapies used as PTSD treatment. What became clear is that there were serious flaws in nearly all of the studies. A consistent flaw was how those studies were structured and conducted.
Many of the studies had basic design problems on how they were conducted along with significant dropout rates of the participants–ranging from 20% to 50%. The studies involving medications of one sort or another were funded by pharmaceutical companies, which had an obvious self-interest in the outcome of the studies. The studies involving psychotherapy were conducted by the individual(s) who developed the techniques–or close collaborators of those techniques.
The researchers caution that they are not suggesting or offering advice as to what a health care professional or patient should do. Their goal was to review what studies have been done about PTSD and the effectiveness of those studies. They suggest that the Veterans Administration (VA), and other government agencies, should be certain that future studies employ reliable research methods to assure the results of the studies are not biased.