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Web-Based Stress Therapy Shows Promise for Vets

Self-managed care program could be expanded to other groups, study says

FRIDAY, Nov. 2 (HealthDay News) -- Internet-based cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) shows promise, according to a pilot study in the November issue of The American Journal of Psychiatry.

The study found that 25 percent of U.S. military personnel assigned to an Internet-based, eight-week program of self-management CBT no longer had PTSD diagnosis after treatment or at six-month follow-up, compared to 5 percent after treatment and 3 percent at six-month follow-up for those assigned to regular supportive counseling.

"We are very encouraged by the results, especially because we demonstrated that service members with PTSD, who may not have the time or inclination to seek formal therapy, can get the help they need. Because self-management CBT respects the ability of service members to help themselves with structure and encouragement, and because the program is private and framed as training, it has the promise for overcoming some of the barriers that prevent many service members from seeking and receiving mental health services," study author Brett Litz said in a prepared statement.

CBT helps patients process traumatic memories therapeutically, understand and manage symptoms, and correct unhealthy thoughts and behaviors. While CBT is effective, it requires substantial training and expertise to administer, according to background information in the study.

These findings suggest that rapid online delivery of effective CBT treatment for PTSD could be expanded to a large population.

"We felt that the Web-based treatment was highly innovative and particularly well-suited for groups of people who have experienced a single highly traumatic event and want to resume their normal life as quickly as possible," Robert Freedman, editor of the American Journal of Psychiatry, said in a prepared statement.

More information

The U.S. National Institute of Mental Health has more about PTSD.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: The American Journal of Psychiatry, news release, Nov. 1, 2007

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