When patients receive treatment for PTSD they normally don’t get asked what kind of therapy they’d like to receive. Often the provider will use the therapy that is most familiar to them.
That can include antidepressants or psychotherapy, maybe both.
But Lori Zoellner, the director of the University of Washington’s Center for Anxiety and Traumatic Stress, says in this case patients may know better. She has co-authored a study, the first of its kind, that found that allowing a PTSD patient to choose which therapy might work for them is more cost-effective and improves a patient's quality of life.
“When we’re thinking about cost effectiveness we really think that a pill is going to be the faster, quicker option,” Zoellner said. “This data says that’s not the case. A pill is a good option if that’s what the patient wants. But if it’s not what the patient wants it’s not the best option for the patient.”
Zollner said a person’s experience with trauma is deeply personal. It changes the way they view the world. Subsequently they have strong options about what might work for them. Some people feel the need to talk about the event more than others.
Zoellner hopes the research will encourage providers to not use a one size fits all approach. “So instead of just immediately going to the pill or going to the psychotherapy, they are actually sort of laying out a plate of evidence-based treatment options," she said.
The study was published in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry.