Prof. Arieh Shalev, Chief of the Hadassah Medical Center’s Psychiatry Department and a leading world expert in post-traumatic stress, is leading groundbreaking research into treatment for Military Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Despite a huge Defense Ministry investment in their treatment, Israeli military veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), says Prof. Shalev, have not been cured. The problem, he explains, is that until the past decade, there was no medical evidence as to which treatments actually help or which individuals can benefit from the various treatments. Shalev’s team, appointed by the Israeli Defense Ministry’s rehabilitation branch, has created a unique model and guidelines for treating the approximately 2,500 veterans and current soldiers suffering from PTSD. Shalev has also developed a simple blood test that can identify people who have been recently exposed to trauma that are likely to get PTSD.
Shalev’s team spent a year collecting data, surveying affected veterans who did not improve over time. Among the “treatments” the researchers found to be ineffective for this condition were long-term psychodynamic psychotherapy and tranquilizers, Shalev reports. Today, he notes, there are other treatments which have proven effective, such as cognitive therapy, where patients are gradually exposed to a traumatic trigger they experienced, as well as antidepressants.
“No one treatment works for everybody,” Shalev cautions. Nevertheless, with Hadassah’s new guidelines, health professionals now have a tool to document an individual patient’s progress and to assess the effectiveness of particular treatments.
Information for this story was excerpted from a June 12, 2008 Jerusalem Post Internet Edition article by Judy Siegel-Itzkovich.