Q. What happens if someone has “blocked out” the specifics of a trauma—or it happened so long ago that the details are fuzzy—but they have the behavioral symptoms of PTSD? Is it still possible to treat them?
Answer By: Kerry J. Ressler, M.D., Ph.D.
Emory University School of Medicine
Yes, they will still respond to pharmacotherapy. Right now, SSRIs remain the first line agent, even though a number of other medications are under study. Additionally, exposure-based psychotherapy can still be quite effective. Often, patients find as they start talking about even the fuzzy memories around the edge, more and more components of the memory and accompanying emotions will return and be available for processing and habituation. Furthermore, cognitive and skills-training components of cognitive and dialectical behavioral therapy as well as approaches such as EMDR can all help to access and diminish symptoms. The important thing is for patients to know that there are a number of options available that can help and to be persistent in seeking recovery.