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PTSD Treatments Might not be Effective for Veterans

Update Date: Jun 21, 2014 11:47 AM EDT

Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can affect a lot of veterans. Every year, the U.S. government spends a lot of money to help treat men and women returning from war. Despite the efforts, a new report found that there is no evidence that treatments for PTSD are effective for veterans.

"We found it surprising that no PTSD outcome measures are used consistently to know if these treatments are working or not," said Dr. Sandro Galea, a Columbia University epidemiologist who headed the Institute of Medicine (IOM) committee that drafted the 301-page report reported by NBC News. "They could be highly effective, but we won't know unless outcomes are tracked and evaluated."

In this report, which was commissioned by Congress, the researchers described PTSD treatment as "ad hoc, incremental and crisis driven," reported by the Los Angeles Times. According to the researchers, in 2012, the government spent $3 billion on PTSD treatments for its veterans and another $294 million on its service members. Despite the amount of money poured into treating this mental illness, the report found that the Defense Department and the Department of Veteran Affairs have never actually examined how the patients benefit from these treatments.

"Both departments lack a coordinated, consistent, well-developed, evidence-based system of treatment for PTSD," said Dr. Galea.

Dr. Elspeth Ritchie, a former Army psychiatrist who served on the committee, added, "There have been many well-intentioned programs done quickly. The critical importance of objectively measuring the effects of those programs has not been given the proper priority."

The new report stressed the importance of studying these programs to see if they are indeed helping veterans recover. By identifying treatments that work, both departments could capitalize on them and help more patients effectively. The researchers added that the departments do not share any information with one another, which could hinder the progress of finding good and effective treatments for PTSD sufferers.

Access to the report can be found here.

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