Training Could Prevent PTSD in Soldiers

Addressing the proper treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can be a challenge as the cause for one individual can be quite different for another. It’s also difficult to identify factors that lead to or can prevent the onset.

A recent News Medical report suggests that scientists typically rely on patients already dealing with PTSD to evaluate and study the disorder. While they may gather valuable information in the process, they also can’t draw reliable comparisons to the individual’s psychological state before experiencing the trauma that led to the PTSD.

That may soon change, however. A combination of psychological and genetic testing is being used to identify factors that can be used to prevent PTSD. A study conducted by the Tel Aviv University’s School of Psychological Services focused on soldiers in the infantry as they are likely to develop the condition as they have a high probability of experiencing a traumatic event.

This group of individuals demonstrated behavior similar to those with elevated anxiety in their typical lives. For soldiers, it is their typical response during deployment for combat. Those soldiers who avoided threats, however, were more likely to develop PTSD when exposed to traumatic experiences.

By understanding this association, researchers then identified potential applications to reduce the risk of developing PTSD. Training that focused on attention bias modification could make a difference. In this training, soldiers learn to direct attention either away from or towards any threatening stimuli. If they could then increase vigilance towards threats before deployment, they may be able to reduce their risk for PTSD.

If successful, this training could be used in treatment for those more likely to be exposed to traumatic events.