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PTSD: Prevalence and Effective Treatments

Understanding PTSD and its treatment

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a mental health condition triggered by experiencing or witnessing a terrifying event. While it’s often associated with military combat, PTSD can result from various traumatic incidents, including accidents, natural disasters, or violent assaults. At Atlantic Behavioral Health’s Intensive Outpatient (IOP) program, we recognize the crucial role of understanding and effectively treating PTSD. This blog post delves into the prevalence of PTSD in the United States and the most effective treatments available, aiming to provide insights for those affected by this condition.

What is PTSD?

PTSD is more than just a reaction to a traumatic event; it’s a complex psychiatric disorder that can significantly impair a person’s daily life. Symptoms of PTSD include flashbacks, nightmares, severe anxiety, as well as uncontrollable thoughts about the traumatic event. These symptoms can persist for months or years, impacting an individual’s ability to function socially and professionally.

Prevalence of PTSD in the United States

The prevalence of PTSD in the U.S. varies but is notably significant. According to Keane, Marshall, and Taft (2006) 1, the lifetime prevalence of PTSD among the general U.S. population is approximately 7% to 8%. This prevalence indicates that a significant portion of the population will experience PTSD at some point in their lives, highlighting the need for accessible and effective treatment options. Furthermore, specific groups within the population may experience higher rates of PTSD. For instance, Mueser and Taub (2008)2 found that among adolescents with severe emotional disorders involved in multiple service systems, the rate of current PTSD was 28%. This finding is particularly concerning, as it suggests that vulnerable populations, such as youth with existing emotional challenges, are at an increased risk of developing PTSD.

Effective Treatments for PTSD

When it comes to treating PTSD, evidence-based approaches are key. Cognitive-behavioral therapies, especially prolonged exposure therapy, have been shown to be particularly effective. Prolonged exposure therapy involves gradually exposing patients to trauma-related memories and stimuli in a controlled, therapeutic environment, helping them process and manage their reactions. A study by Schnurr et al. (2007) demonstrated the effectiveness of prolonged exposure therapy in reducing PTSD symptoms among female veterans and active-duty military personnel. The study found that participants who underwent prolonged exposure therapy experienced a greater reduction in PTSD symptoms compared to those who received present-centered therapy, a supportive intervention. This research underscores the potential of prolonged exposure therapy to bring significant relief to those struggling with PTSD. Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) also play a crucial role in PTSD treatment. SSRIs are a class of drugs typically used to treat depression, but they have also been found effective in treating PTSD. Keane, Marshall, and Taft (2006)1 note that SSRIs are the strongest pharmacological treatment for PTSD, offering modest yet important effects in managing symptoms.

PTSD Treatment at Atlantic Behavioral Health

At Atlantic Behavioral Health’s IOP/IOS, we prioritize a holistic and individualized approach to treating PTSD. Our program integrates the latest evidence-based therapies, including cognitive-behavioral techniques and medication management, to address the unique needs of each patient. Our therapists are trained in prolonged exposure therapy, ensuring that patients receive care that is both compassionate and effective. We understand that each patient’s experience with PTSD is unique, and our treatment plans reflect this individuality. In addition to therapeutic interventions, we offer comprehensive support services, including case management and family education, to ensure that our patients receive the all-encompassing care they need. The importance of early intervention in PTSD cannot be overstated. The sooner a person receives treatment for PTSD, the better their chances of recovery. At Atlantic Behavioral Health, we are committed to providing prompt and effective care to those who need it.
PTSD Treatment in Massachusetts

The Role of Community and Societal Support in Managing PTSD

The journey of healing from PTSD extends beyond the individual and involves the broader community. Societal support plays a pivotal role in the recovery process. This support can come in various forms, such as awareness campaigns, community-based support groups, and public health initiatives aimed at reducing the stigma surrounding PTSD. Such societal efforts can create an environment where individuals feel more comfortable seeking help and discussing their experiences.

Educational programs that inform the public about the realities of PTSD are crucial. These programs can foster understanding and empathy, helping to break down barriers that prevent individuals from seeking the help they need. By promoting a more informed and supportive community, we can make significant strides in aiding those affected by PTSD.

Personalized Care in PTSD Treatment

At Atlantic Behavioral Health, we emphasize the importance of personalized care in treating PTSD. Each individual’s experience with trauma is unique, and so too should be their treatment plan. Our team of mental health professionals works closely with each patient to develop a tailored treatment approach that addresses their specific needs and symptoms.

Personalized care might involve a combination of therapies, such as individual psychotherapy, group therapy, and family counseling. It may also include lifestyle adjustments, such as incorporating relaxation techniques and regular physical activity into daily routines. This holistic approach ensures that all aspects of a patient’s well-being are addressed, providing a solid foundation for recovery.

Atlantic Behavioral Health’s Commitment to Mental Health Excellence

Our commitment at Atlantic Behavioral Health extends beyond providing state-of-the-art treatment for PTSD. We are dedicated to advancing mental health care through continuous learning and adaptation of the latest research and best practices in the field. Our team regularly participates in professional development opportunities to stay at the forefront of mental health care, ensuring that our patients receive the most effective and up-to-date treatments available.

We also actively engage in community outreach and education, striving to raise awareness about mental health issues, including PTSD. By doing so, we aim to destigmatize mental health conditions and encourage more individuals to seek the help they need.

The Importance of Early Intervention and Ongoing Support

Early intervention is critical in the treatment of PTSD. The sooner an individual receives help after experiencing a traumatic event, the better their chances of mitigating the long-term effects of PTSD. Our IOS program (often referred to as IOP by insurance companies) is designed to provide early and intensive support to individuals showing signs of PTSD, offering them the best possible chance for a full recovery.

Ongoing support is equally important in the treatment of PTSD. Recovery is a journey, and it’s essential to have continuous care and support throughout this process. Our program offers long-term follow-up care, ensuring that our patients have access to the support they need, even after completing their initial treatment program.

Encouraging a Proactive Approach to Mental Health

We encourage everyone to adopt a proactive approach to mental health. This involves being aware of the signs and symptoms of PTSD and other mental health conditions and seeking help when needed. It also means supporting friends, family members, or colleagues who may be struggling with PTSD or other mental health issues.

At Atlantic Behavioral Health, we believe that mental health is just as important as physical health, and we encourage everyone to prioritize their mental well-being. Whether it’s through participating in our programs, attending community events, or simply starting a conversation about mental health, every step taken towards awareness and understanding makes a difference.


PTSD is a complex and challenging condition, but with the right support and treatment, recovery is possible. At Atlantic Behavioral Health, we are committed to providing comprehensive and compassionate care to those affected by PTSD. We hope this blog post has provided valuable insights into PTSD and its treatment and encouraged those in need to seek the support they deserve.

If you or someone you know is struggling with PTSD, please reach out to us at Atlantic Behavioral Health. Our team is here to help and support you on your journey to recovery.

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Call us today to learn more about PTSD and how this  therapy can be helpful for you or someone you love suffering from PTSD.

PTSD Frequently Asked Questions

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a mental health condition triggered by experiencing or witnessing a traumatic event. It can affect anyone who has been through a traumatic experience, including military combat, accidents, natural disasters, or personal assaults. Symptoms include flashbacks, nightmares, severe anxiety, and uncontrollable thoughts about the event.

PTSD is a relatively common condition in the U.S., with a lifetime prevalence of about 7% to 8% among the general population. Certain groups, such as adolescents with severe emotional disorders or female veterans, may experience higher rates of PTSD. For example, studies have shown that the rate of current PTSD in adolescents with severe emotional disorders is as high as 28%

Effective treatments for PTSD include cognitive-behavioral therapies, particularly prolonged exposure therapy, and medication management using Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs). Prolonged exposure therapy has been especially effective in treating PTSD symptoms in female veterans and active-duty military personnel

At Atlantic Behavioral Health, we offer a personalized and holistic approach to treating PTSD. Our program integrates evidence-based therapies tailored to each patient's needs, including individual psychotherapy, group therapy, and family counseling. We also focus on early intervention and provide long-term follow-up care for sustainable recovery.

Community support plays a crucial role in the recovery process for individuals with PTSD. This includes public awareness campaigns, community-based support groups, and educational programs that reduce stigma and foster understanding. A supportive community environment can encourage individuals to seek help and share their experiences, facilitating better mental health outcomes.


  1. Keane, T., Marshall, A. D., & Taft, C. (2006). Posttraumatic stress disorder: Etiology, epidemiology, and treatment outcome. Annual Review of Clinical Psychology, 2, 161-197. Available at: https://www.annualreviews.org/doi/10.1146/annurev.clinpsy.2.022305.095305

  2. Mueser, K., & Taub, J. (2008). Trauma and PTSD among adolescents with severe emotional disorders involved in multiple service systems. Psychiatric Services, 59(6), 627-634. Available at: https://ps.psychiatryonline.org/doi/full/10.1176/ps.2008.59.6.627

  3. Schnurr, P. P., Friedman, M. J., Engel, C. C., Foa, E. B., Shea, M. T., Chow, B. K., Resick, P. A., Thurston, V., Orsillo, S. M., Haug, R., Turner, C., & Bernardy, N. (2007). Cognitive behavioral therapy for posttraumatic stress disorder in women: A randomized controlled trial. JAMA, 297(8), 820-830. Available at: https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/205769

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