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Treatment for PTSD and Another Mental Illness

Treatment for PTSD and Another Mental IllnessDartmouth Medical School researchers have adapted cognitive-behavioral therapy for people with serious mental illness and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Sufferers diagnosed with both post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and serious mental illness are receiving the treatment from the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ)-University Behavioral HealthCare. They are part of a study involving a new treatment approach for individuals with PTSD and serious mental illness such as major depression, bipolar disorder or schizophrenia.

Steven Silverstein, Ph.D, director and Stephanie Marcello, Ph.D, both of the Division of Schizophrenia Research, are implementing the new therapy, which is based on principles of cognitive-behavioral therapy.

The treatment process includes relaxation training, helpful information about how stress causes the symptoms, and ‘cognitive restructuring’ or techniques that people learn to help replace anxiety-arousing thoughts with more realistic appraisals about themselves and the level of danger in their environments. Treatment is closely coordinated with clients’ clinicians.

UMDNJ is the first institution outside of Dartmouth Medical School to offer this new treatment to mentally ill patients in a culturally diverse urban environment.

All the patients in the study come from UMDNJ community mental health centers in New Brunswick, South Brunswick, Piscataway and Newark.

According to Marcello, close to 60 percent of people with highly symptomatic PTSD also suffer from serious mental illness (SMI) such as major depression, bipolar disorder or schizophrenia.

Researchers have found that for people with major mental illness and severe PTSD, the post-traumatic stress symptoms rarely go away on their own, which justifies the need for very specialized treatment, such as the cognitive-behavioral therapy.

“We want people suffering from PTSD to realize there are treatment options available,” she said, adding that as the program develops, more clinicians will be trained in the therapy methods.

Marcello describes the therapy as “the first treatment developed for this dually diagnosed — PTSD and SMI — population.” Marcello and Silverstein are in the second year of a four-year clinical trial of the therapy. Currently, 75 patients are enrolled in the program.

Their goal is to treat 200 people during the course of the trial. Participants must be an outpatient or partial program participant at any of the UMDNJ Community Health Centers where trained clinicians and weekly supervision is available.

The study is funded by the National Institute of Mental Health.

Source: University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ)

Treatment for PTSD and Another Mental Illness

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2018). Treatment for PTSD and Another Mental Illness. Psych Central. Retrieved on January 24, 2019, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Aug 2018
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Aug 2018
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