Impact of PTSD treatment on postconcussive symptoms in Veterans: A comparison of sertraline, prolonged exposure, and their combination

Abstract: Many Veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan struggle with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and the effects of traumatic brain injuries (TBI). Some people with a history of TBI report a constellation of somatic, cognitive, and emotional complaints that are often referred to as postconcussive symptoms (PCS). Research suggests these symptoms may not be specific to TBI. This study examined the impact of PTSD treatment on PCS in combat Veterans seeking treatment for PTSD. As part of a larger randomized control trial, 198 Operation Iraqi Freedom, Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation New Dawn (OIF/OEF/OND) Veterans with PTSD received Prolonged Exposure Therapy, sertraline, or the combination. Potential deployment related TBI, PCS, PTSD and depression symptoms were assessed throughout treatment. Linear mixed models were used to predict PCS change over time across the full sample and treatment arms, and the association of change in PTSD and depression symptoms on PCS was also examined. Patterns of change for the full sample and the subsample of those who reported a head injury were examined. Results showed that PCS decreased with treatment. There were no significant differences across treatments. No significant differences were found in the pattern of symptom change based on TBI screening status. Shifts in PCS were predicted by change PTSD and depression. Results suggest that PCS reduced with PTSD treatment in this population and are related to shift in depression and PTSD severity, further supporting that reported PCS symptoms may be better understood as non-specific symptoms.

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    Creatine concentration in the anterior cingulate cortex is associated with greater stress recovery from traumatic events: Preliminary evidence from a US Veteran sample

    Abstract: BACKGROUND: Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a psychiatric condition characterized by a prolonged stress response to potentially life-threatening events long after the event has passed. Understanding factors related to recovery from traumatic life events may inform novel targets for intervention. There is emerging preclinical evidence that creatine (Cr), a molecule critical to brain bioenergetics, may be a neurobiological marker of stress reactivity and recovery. METHOD: 25 US Veterans (8 female) completed the Life Events Checklist for DSM-5, which assessed different types of traumatic events. Veterans were also asked to rate the subjective stress of each traumatic event on a 1-10 scale currently (Current Stress) and at the time the event occurred (Past Stress). Stress recovery was quantified as the difference between Current and Past Stress. Current PTSD symptoms were also assessed using the PTSD Checklist for DSM-5. Cr concentrations in the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) were measured in the anterior cingulate cortex using proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy (1H-MRS). RESULTS: Higher levels of Cr were associated with self-reported stress recovery from participants' most traumatic life event. Cr was not related to number of different types of traumatic life events or current PTSD symptoms. LIMITATIONS: The sample size was relatively small. Stress recovery was measured via retrospective self-report. Future experimental work in humans should clarify the protective role of Cr in recovery from trauma. CONCLUSIONS: ACC concentrations of Cr may be an important neurochemical factor related to stress recovery. Future work should investigate Cr as a possible protective factor against the effects of traumatic stress.