Consolidating memories

The other half were asked to write down a log of what they had done since coming to the hospital.The results, which were published in the journal Molecular Psychiatry, are promising.

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Here are three hurdles we need to overcome to successfully prevent PTSD in the 21st century. Earlier attempts at prevention relied more on rhetoric and theory than sound evidence.

This shaky scientific foundation led to the demise of such efforts.

But doctors like me who work on the front lines of PTSD are feeling the limitations of that focus.

At any given moment in the United States, 6.3 million people are living with PTSD.

When compared to the log completers, participants who played Tetris were less likely to report post-trauma intrusive memories and related psychological distress in the week that followed their car accident.

For centuries, prevention was an essential part of mental health care. But in the ensuing decades, skeptical politicians, the changing role of psychiatrists, and the growing popularity of psychiatric medication pushed preventive psychiatry to the sidelines.

It’s understandable why the pendulum might be swinging back toward prevention.

My fear is that preventive psychiatry’s comeback will fail if we don’t learn from the mistakes of the past.

Other golden-hour interventions that show promise include hydrocortisone, delivered as a pill or an intravenous treatment; short-term opioids to aggressively reduce pain after physical trauma; and a modified prolonged exposure (the gold standard in talk therapy for PTSD) intervention for delivery within hours after a trauma. Funding agencies need to make a long term commitment to the research and development efforts that will be required to thoroughly test these innovations.

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