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Couples Therapy May Help Combat PTSD
Date:8/15/2012

By Serena Gordon
HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, Aug. 14 (HealthDay News) -- Although most treatments for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) focus on the affected individual, researchers report that a new therapy that includes the patient's partner not only improved symptoms, but also increased the couples' satisfaction with their relationship.

"PTSD is a very treatable condition, and it's important to get help if you're struggling," said study author Candice Monson, a professor of psychology and director of clinical training at Ryerson University, in Toronto. "What our study shows is that allowing your loved ones to be a part of your mental health treatment -- if you're in a supportive relationship -- can be very important to treatment. We'd never advise someone with cancer to go through their treatment alone, would we?"

Results of the study are published in the Aug. 15 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

PTSD is an anxiety disorder that follows a dangerous and frightening event or events, according to the U.S. National Institutes of Mental Health (NIMH). It can stem from situations such as fighting in a war, being the victim of a violent crime or being in a motor vehicle accident.

People with the disorder often relive the events over and over again, according to the NIMH. Another common symptom is avoiding the situation or the place where it occurred. For example, people suffering from PTSD after a car accident might avoid driving, Monson explained.

Loved ones of someone with PTSD may find that their relationship suffers. The person with PTSD might even become aggressive towards them. On the other hand, loved ones can also reinforce the fears of people with PTSD by allowing them to withdraw from family events or not drive the car.

The new study randomly assigned 40 couples to either a PTSD-specific couples therapy or to a waiting list for therapy. One person in eac
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