What Treatments Are Used in OPT?
We are comparing a therapy called Prolonged Exposure (PE) to PE plus a medication called sertraline. Based on research findings, these are two effective treatments for PTSD.
If you participate in OPT, you will receive one of these treatments at no cost.
What is Prolonged Exposure (PE)?
Prolonged exposure (PE) is a type of individual therapy which is designed to target a number of trauma-related difficulties. PE includes repeatedly telling the story of your trauma and gradually doing the things that you are avoiding because they remind you of the trauma or because you think they are dangerous. These experiences will help you realize that the traumatic memory is not dangerous, that situations you thought were dangerous are actually safe, and that you can handle stress successfully.
Of the available treatments for PTSD, PE has undergone some of the most rigorous scientific testing. Although PE is generally well tolerated, the risks associated with PE include the possibility of mild to moderate discomfort when exposed to anxiety-provoking images, situations, and places.
If you received PE, you would meet once a week with your therapist for 90-120 minutes for approximately 10 weeks.
What is Prolonged Exposure (PE) Plus Sertraline?
PE plus sertraline is a treatment in which you would receive PE (as described above) in addition to sertraline (Zoloft).
Sertraline is an antidepressant medication called an SSRI, or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor. Sertraline is thought to correct brain changes associated with PTSD and may help you approach trauma-related memories and situations in PE with less distress so that you can learn they are not dangerous and that you are capable to deal with them.
Sertraline is an FDA approved medication in the treatment of PTSD. Although sertraline is generally well tolerated, the risks associated with it include the possibility of mild to moderate side effects or withdrawal symptoms (e.g., loose stools, sweating, nausea, headaches, increased anxiety or depression).
If you were assigned to this treatment, in addition to meeting weekly with your therapist, you would also be seen regularly by a psychiatrist who would monitor your response to sertraline.