Pharmacological Secondary Prevention of PTSD in Youth: Challenges and Opportunities for Advancement

Authors

  • Matthew A. Maccani,

    1. Division of Behavioral Genetics, Rhode Island Hospital, Providence, Rhode Island, USA
    2. Center for Alcohol and Addiction Studies, Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island, USA
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  • Douglas L. Delahanty,

    1. Department of Psychology, Kent State University, Kent, Ohio, USA
    2. Northeastern Ohio University College of Medicine, Rootstown, Ohio, USA
    3. Medical Research, Summa Health System, Akron, Ohio, USA
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  • Nicole R. Nugent,

    1. Division of Behavioral Genetics, Rhode Island Hospital, Providence, Rhode Island, USA
    2. Alpert Brown Medical School and Bradley/Hasbro Children's Research Center, Providence, Rhode Island, USA
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  • Steven J. Berkowitz

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Psychiatry, University of Pennsylvania, School of Medicine Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA
    2. Yale University Child Study Center, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut, USA
    • Division of Behavioral Genetics, Rhode Island Hospital, Providence, Rhode Island, USA
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  • Dr. Maccani is supported by 2 T32 AA 07459-26. Dr. Nugent is supported by K01MH087240-04.

Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Steven Berkowitz, University of Pennsylvania, Director, Penn Center for Youth and Family Trauma Response and Recovery, 245 South 8th Street, Philadelphia, PA 19107. E-mail: Steven.Berkowitz@uphs.upenn.edu

Abstract

Child and adolescent posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is associated with an increased risk for a number of deleterious mental and physical health outcomes that if untreated may persist throughout the life course. Efficacious interventions applied soon after trauma exposure have the potential to reduce or prevent the development of PTSD symptoms and their associated impact on behavior and physical health. We review extant research related to treatment-modifiable peritraumatic predictors of pediatric PTSD, which have informed an emerging field of pharmacologic secondary prevention (i.e., occurring shortly following trauma exposure) of PTSD. Challenges and opportunities for early posttrauma PTSD prevention are described. Finally, we offer new models for biologically informed integration of pharmacologic and psychosocial secondary prevention intervention strategies for children and adolescents.

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