Posttraumatic stress disorder: Diagnosis and epidemiology, comorbidity and social consequences, biology and treatment

Nicoletta Brunello*, Jonathan R.T. Davidson, Martin Deahl, Ron C. Kessler, Julien Mendlewicz, Giorgio Racagni, Arieh Y. Shalev, Joseph Zohar

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Epidemiological studies clearly indicate that posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is becoming a major health concern worldwide even if still poorly recognized and not well treated. PTSD commonly co-occurs with other psychiatric disorders, and several symptoms overlap with major depressive disorders, anxiety disorders and substance abuse; this may contribute to diagnostic confusion and underdiagnosis. This anxiety disorder provokes significant occupational, psychiatric, medical and psychosocial disability, and its consequences are enormously costly, not only to the survivors and their families, but also to the health care system and society. Work impairment associated with PTSD is very similar to the amount of work impairment associated with major depression. The pathophysiology of PTSD is multifactorial and involves dysregulation of the serotonergic as well as the noradrenergic system. A rational therapeutic approach should normalize the specific psychobiological alterations associated with PTSD. This can be achieved through the use of antidepressant drugs, mainly of those that potentiate serotonergic mechanisms. Recent double-blind placebo-controlled studies report the efficacy of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors. Several cognitive-behavioral and psychosocial treatments have also been reported to be efficacious and could be considered when treating PTSD patients.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)150-162
Number of pages13
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2001
Externally publishedYes


  • Antidepressants
  • Pharmacoeconomics
  • Posttraumatic stress disorder
  • Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors
  • Treatment
  • Tricyclic antidepressants


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