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J Clin Psychiatry. 1991 Jan;52(1):17-20.

Psychiatric complications during flooding therapy for posttraumatic stress disorder.

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Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Manchester, NH 03103.


The authors use six case vignettes to illustrate underrecognized complications occurring during flooding therapy for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), including exacerbation of depression, relapse of alcoholism, and precipitation of panic disorder. A common denominator to the majority of these cases appears to be the mobilization of negative posttrauma appraisal, accompanied by shame, guilt, and anger. The authors suggest that flooding may not be helpful for these negative emotions in the manner that it is for anxiety. Suggestions for preventing and treating complications of flooding therapy for PTSD include employing more cognitive forms of therapy in cases at risk; supporting abstinence from alcohol and other substances; providing adjunctive pharmacologic treatment as indicated, e.g., tricyclics for depression or panic; and providing long-term follow-up.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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