Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

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Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental health condition that some people develop after experiencing or witnessing a traumatic or life-threatening event, like military combat, a natural disaster, a car accident, or assault. According to the National Center for PTSD, about 7 to 8 percent of the United States population will have PTSD at some point in their lives and about 8 million adults have PTSD during a given year.

Recent research has shown that PTSD is common among soldiers returning from combat duty. Veterans and service members with a combat-related concussion/mild traumatic brain injury are often at significantly greater risk of PTSD.

Clinical practice guidelines on the management of post-traumatic stress revised in 2017 by the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Department of Defense state that research doesn’t support the use of any complementary or integrative health practice for the primary treatment of PTSD. The guideline authors also recommended against treating PTSD with cannabis or cannabis derivatives. However, a 2018 review of the literature suggests that complementary health approaches such as mindfulness, yoga, and relaxation techniques may be helpful for PTSD symptoms, although the authors point out that many of the studies they reviewed had some weaknesses (such as small numbers of participants, no active control groups, and unblinded assessments).

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NCCIH has provided this material for your information. It is not intended to substitute for the medical expertise and advice of your health care provider(s). We encourage you to discuss any decisions about treatment or care with your health care provider. The mention of any product, service, or therapy is not an endorsement by NCCIH.

Last Updated: January 2020