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Posttraumatic Stress Disorder in Patients With Burn Injuries

Yu Bum-Hee MD; Dimsdale, Joel E. MD
Journal of Burn Care & Research: September 1999

This article reviews the literature about the extent of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in patients with burns. PTSD is a relatively new diagnostic label, although the emotional effects of severe trauma have long been recognized. A burn injury—one of the most traumatic of all injuries—can be accompanied by serious psychological sequelae, including PTSD. Psychiatric symptoms may not be immediately apparent in patients with burns because the patients often develop PTSD many months after the injury. The reported prevalence rate of PTSD in patients with burns varies from 8% to 45%. The factors increasing these patients' risks include preburn affective disorder, delirium or severe pain during acute treatment, and less perceived social support. Psychosocial issues must be considered in the recovery or rehabilitation phase. Pharmacotherapy, psychodynamic psychotherapy, cognitive-behavioral therapy, and eye-movement desensitization and reprocessing may be helpful to the PTSD patient. Early detection and treatment of PTSD cannot only diminish the effects of this disabling disorder but can also help the rehabilitation of patients with this condition. (J Burn Care Rehabil 1999;20:426–33)

©1999The American Burn Association