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Cognitive abnormalities in PTSD

Posted Feb 10 2009 11:01am

A review published in the January 2009 issue of Current Opinion in Psychiatry examines recent research on cognitive difficulties associated with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) published between January 2007 and June 2008. The reviewed studies indicate that verbal and autobiographical memory problems are exhibited by individuals with PTSD relative to controls and may represent preexisting risk factors for PTSD rather than a consequence of PTSD symptoms. The reviewed findings also provide evidence for concentration and attention biases toward trauma-relevant information in PTSD. Although memories of traumatic events have been found to differ in PTSD patient relative to other types of memories and memories of depressed individuals, they are likely on the same continuum as nontraumatic memories rather than being qualitatively different. The author concluded that individuals with PTSD experience cognitive alterations ranging from impairments in overall memory functioning to difficulties specific to trauma-related cues. These cognitive difficulties appear to be importantly related to the development and/or maintenance of the disorder. At this point, it is unclear whether common mechanisms may account for these diverse cognitive difficulties and whether cognitive impairments are attributable to comorbid depression.

Click here for the abstract.

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