About five to 10 per cent of Australians suffer from posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) at some point in their lives. The debilitating psychiatric disorder can develop after surviving a traumatic event, like a natural disaster, family violence or sexual assault.
People with PTSD may also experience other mental health problems like depression or anxiety.
Current best practice treatment is talking therapy – a trauma-focused treatment that requires a survivor to focus directly on the memory of the traumatic event.
But this can be challenging for some people.
World-first research from Phoenix Australia at the University of Melbourne has identified a potential new and effective treatment for PTSD – Unified Protocol for Transdiagnostic Treatment of Emotional Disorders (UP).
This treatment could help the third of people who are resistant to current evidence-based treatment and those who avoid treatment because they can’t face having to relive the trauma.
“Unified Protocol treatment has a good evidence base in a number of other psychiatric disorders like depression, anxiety disorders and substance use disorders, but it has never before been trialed with PTSD,” explains Professor Meaghan O’Donnell, Head of Research at Phoenix Australia Centre for Posttraumatic Mental Health.