New guidelines for the treatment of ASD and PTSD in children

Australian ASD PTSD GuidelinesDo not use psychological debriefing when a child has been exposed to a traumatic event such as assault or a major car crash.

And when you treat a child who has developed Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) due to trauma, do not use pharmacotherapy either (that is, not as a first line treatment).

Rather, apply the principles of psychological first aid in the direct aftermath of trauma and use trauma-focused cognitive behavioral therapy to treat PTSD.

These recommendations come from the brand new, very extensive Australian Guidelines for the Treatment of ASD and PTSD. For the first time, the guidelines include separate sections on children and adolescents.

How are the guidelines developed?

The guidelines are mainly informed by a systematic review of the literature and a staged process of expert consensus. People affected by trauma, clinicians and the public have also had varying levels of input. Continue reading

Moving from universal to selective prevention: results of a web-based early intervention for PTSD

Joanne MouthaanThis is a post by Joanne Mouthaan. As a PhD candidate, Joanne conducted a large prospective longitudinal trial of mental health in traumatic injury patients in Amsterdam. Now in the final stage of her thesis, she is working as a lecturer at the Department of Clinical and Health Psychology of Leiden University, The Netherlands.

Our team’s goal is to gain more insight into a) the incidence and development of mental health problems after injury, b) possible bio/psycho/social factors contributing to these problems, and c) prevention of mental health problems by intervening early. From 2005 to 2010, we recruited approximately 900 patients from two level-1 trauma centers (the Academic Medical Center and the VU University Medical Center). Regarding the issue of prevention, we developed a web-based early psychological intervention called Trauma TIPS, the main subject of this post.

Traumatic injury and PTSD

Around the world, traumatic injury is one of the most common traumatic events, accounting for 9% of global mortality. Because of its high incidence, injuries cause millions of people to experience (temporary or permanent) disabilities on a yearly basis, including mental health problems (see http://www.who.int/topics/injuries/en/). PTSD develops in 10-20% of injury patients. Therefore, prevention of PTSD has been mentioned by some as the holy grail of trauma research. Continue reading

Can we use Facebook to assess mental health needs after a disaster?

facebook disaster mental healthImagine: you have just received a request to assess the mental health needs of the survivors of a large-scale disaster. What are your major challenges: Logistics? Resources? Communication? Getting an overview of who is in the area, who has been assessed, and who still needs to be? And if needs are identified, getting the appropriate services in place?

Probably all of the above. In addition, it may be dangerous to enter the disaster area altogether, for example due to radiation risk.

Therefore, wouldn’t it help if you could conduct needs assessments via social networks like Facebook? If these give the same information as face-to-face interviews that you would conduct otherwise, it would be worthwhile as a low-cost-low-risk approach.

A research team from Israel set out to test whether a Facebook sample and a traditional face-to-face sample would show differences in mental health and disaster-related data after the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster. Continue reading

PTSD in the DSM-5

DSM5 DSMIVWhat is going to change in the criteria for a PTSD diagnosis in the 5th edition of the psychiatry ‘bible’, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders?

The DSM-5 is to be published in May this year but some information on the changes starts to trickle through…

Below are the most important changes, drawn from a handout of the American Psychiatric Association:

1. PTSD will no longer be classified as an anxiety disorder. It will fall under the new ‘Trauma- and Stress-or-Related Disorders’. Continue reading

Can very young children do cognitive-behavioral therapy ?

CBT for young childrenFive key considerations for working with young traumatized children” by Dr. Alex de Young was one of our most popular blogposts last year. We know relatively little of young children’s recovery and of how we can help them. The field is rapidly moving forward however and one of its pioneers, Prof. Michael Scheeringa, has agreed to tell you more about his new CBT approach for very young children. Continue reading