More than half a million veterans have been diagnosed with combat-related post-traumatic stress. On Wednesday, some of the leading minds in treating PTSD gathered in San Antonio to discuss their latest findings.
"Their life may be threatened, their buddy's life may be threatened, they see human remains, they see the aftermath of a blast explosion, they question humanity, how can these things be going on?" said Dr. Alan Peterson from the UT-Health Science Center.
Currently, there are two main types of treatment for post-traumatic stress: prolonged exposure therapy that attempts to get veterans to focus on activities they may be avoiding and cognitive processing therapy designed to challenge veterans' thoughts and feelings about traumatic events.
"You ask them questions about, 'Well, how could it be your fault? What could you have done? What options did you actually have at the time? How many seconds did you have to respond? Were you even there at the time?'" said Dr. Patricia Resick from Duke University.
It's relatively new research studied over the past 10 years. The good news is that researchers say these types of therapy can effectively get veterans into remission. Now, they're trying to narrow down how long veterans should be in treatment and how to tailor therapy to different age groups.
"For a long time, people thought PTSD was a life sentence and they were getting that message, sometimes very bluntly, that you're going to be on medication for the rest of your life and there's nothing you can do about it," Dr. Resick said. "In fact, I find that it's an easily treated disorder and we need to take the stigma out of getting treatment for PTSD."