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Transforming the understanding
and treatment of mental illnesses.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a disorder that can develop after exposure to a shocking, scary, or dangerous event. Anyone can develop PTSD at any age, including war veterans, children, and people who have been through a physical or sexual assault, abuse, accident, disaster, or other serious event. Some people develop PTSD after a friend or family member experiences harm or dies unexpectedly. People who have PTSD may feel stressed or frightened, even when they are not in danger. Learn more about post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Featured Studies

Featured studies include only those currently recruiting participants. Studies with the most recent start date appear first.


A Deployment Focused Pragmatic Trial of Optimal Stepped Care Intervention Targeting PTSD and Comorbidity for Acutely Hospitalized Injury Survivors Treated in US Trauma Care Systems

Study Type: Interventional
Start Date: January 9, 2023
Eligibility: 18 Years and Older, Does Not Accept Healthy Volunteers
Location(s): Harborview Medical Center, Seattle, Washington, United States

This investigation is a randomized pragmatic trial of a brief stepped care intervention delivered from an acute care medical trauma center that may both reduce the symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and diminish emergency department health service utilization.


Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT) Memory Support (MS) Study

Study Type: Interventional
Start Date: January 4, 2023
Eligibility: 18 Years and Older, Does Not Accept Healthy Volunteers
Location(s): VA Boston Healthcare System, Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts, United States

The efficacy of psychological interventions for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is likely limited by the difficulty participants have learning and remembering important therapy content. Accordingly, the present study will examine the utility of integrating a Memory Support (MS) intervention into Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT), an empirically supported and widely disseminated treatment for PTSD. MS was designed to integrate techniques aimed at facilitating encoding, consolidation, and retrieval of new learning into existing treatments, and has been shown to improve outcomes when integrated into cognitive therapy for depression. A pilot randomized controlled trial (n=52) comparing CPT with Memory Support (CPT+MS) to CPT-alone will be conducted. Study participants will be adults diagnosed with PTSD.

The primary aim of the trial will be to determine if CPT+MS will lead to greater memory and learning of therapy content relative to CPT-alone, and to establish the acceptability and feasibility of integrating MS into CPT. Secondary aims include a preliminary examination of treatment efficacy, as indicated by the magnitude of changes in PTSD symptoms between conditions, and target validation, as indicated by associations between memory and learning of therapy content and treatment response. Exploratory analyses will examine several indicators of baseline memory-related cognitive functioning as predictors of memory and learning of therapy content, providing preliminary data to inform future research on personalized application of MS. Results of the trial will advance scientific knowledge about methods for optimizing memory and learning as a mechanism for improving PTSD treatment outcomes.


Neural Connectivity During Therapy for Adolescent PTSD

Study Type: Interventional
Start Date: November 29, 2022
Eligibility: 12 Years to 17 Years, Does Not Accept Healthy Volunteers
Location(s): UT Health Department of Psychiatry, San Antonio, Texas, United States

Posttraumatic stress disorder in adolescence impairs neurobiological networks underlying cognitive, social and emotional skills. Neuroimaging research that seeks to identify the neural mechanisms of treatments for PTSD could lead to novel treatments, but progress has been slow using current methods. The proposed study uses an innovative approach to identify neural mechanisms of specific phases of trauma-focused therapy for youth with PTSD, allowing a new understanding of brain changes associated with the process of therapy.


CO2 Reactivity as a Biomarker of Non-Response to Exposure-Based Therapy

Study Type: Interventional
Start Date: November 2, 2022
Eligibility: 18 Years to 70 Years, Does Not Accept Healthy Volunteers
Location(s): Boston University, Boston, Massachusetts, United States; The University of Texas at Austin, Austin, Texas, United States

Anxiety-, obsessive-compulsive and trauma- and stressor-related disorders reflect a significant public health problem. This study is designed to evaluate the predictive power of a novel biomarker based on a CO2 challenge, thus addressing the central question "can this easy-to-administer assay aid clinicians in deciding whether or not to initiate exposure-based therapy?"


CPT-L to Improve Outcomes for Individuals With HIV and PTSD

Study Type: Interventional
Start Date: July 13, 2022
Eligibility: 18 Years and Older, Does Not Accept Healthy Volunteers
Location(s): Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, South Carolina, United States

This study plans to adapt and examine the acceptability and feasibility of an evidence-based PTSD treatment that has reduced other HIV transmission behavior (e.g., sexual risk), Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT), at an HIV clinic as a strategy to improve HIV outcomes in this population.


Testing Adaptive Interventions to Improve Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Treatment Outcomes in Federally Qualified Health Centers

Study Type: Interventional
Start Date: June 23, 2022
Eligibility: 18 Years and Older, Does Not Accept Healthy Volunteers
Location(s): Grace Health, Battle Creek, Michigan, United States; Hamilton Community Health Network, Flint, Michigan, United States; Cherry Health, Grand Rapids, Michigan, United States; Upper Great Lakes Family Health Care Center, Menominee, Michigan, United States; Family Medical Center of Michigan, Monroe, Michigan, United States; Sterling Area Health Center, Sterling, Michigan, United States; Family Health Care, Baldwin, Michigan, United States

This trial is being completed to develop a stepped-care talk therapy model for patients with PTSD. Specifically, this study is testing whether beginning with one type of therapy is better than beginning with another type of therapy, and whether moving to a different therapy after four sessions is more helpful than staying with the same therapy, depending on how well it is working.

The central hypothesis is that beginning with a low- or medium-intensity PTSD intervention and then titrating intensity based on early indications of response will result in clinically significant PTSD symptom reduction with parsimony of resources.


PTSD Treatment for Incarcerated Men and Women: NIMH

Study Type: Interventional
Start Date: June 6, 2022
Eligibility: 18 Years and Older, Does Not Accept Healthy Volunteers
Location(s): Psychiatric Institute and Clinic, Madison, Wisconsin, United States

Study examining the feasibility of and psychological response to group Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT) in incarcerated men and women with Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The study will be conducted in male and female incarcerated populations and will include 2 groups of 10 individuals for CPT in both populations (i.e., 40 participants total; 20F/20M). The study will run for up to 2 years. Participants can expect to be participating in study for up to 22 weeks.


Telehealth 2.0: Evaluating Effectiveness and Engagement Strategies for CPT-Text for PTSD

Study Type: Interventional
Start Date: March 22, 2022
Eligibility: 18 Years to 75 Years, Accepts Healthy Volunteers
Location(s): Stanford University, Palo Alto, California, United States

There is a pressing need to increase capacity to treat PTSD related to or exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Texting-based therapy holds promise to increase capacity and reduce barriers to delivering evidence-based treatments (EBTs), but ongoing engagement in digital mental health interventions is low. This study will compare a texting-based EBT for PTSD to culturally-informed texting-based treatment for PTSD as usual, and it will also compare a unique incentive strategy to typical platform reminders aimed to prevent early discontinuation in therapy.


Facilitation of Extinction Retention and Reconsolidation Blockade in PTSD

Study Type: Interventional
Start Date: March 4, 2022
Eligibility: 18 Years to 55 Years, Does Not Accept Healthy Volunteers
Location(s): Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, Massachusetts, United States

Purpose: About 6.4% of the U.S. population suffers from posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Trauma-focused psychotherapies are generally effective in PTSD, but responses vary greatly across individuals and PTSD subpopulations. Neurobiological factors impacted by life experiences, stress, and genetics can affect treatment responses. These factors can alter brain capacities needed to reprocess traumatic memories prevent them from triggering intensely distressing, disruptive, out-of-place responses.

For example, during psychotherapy for PTSD, trauma memory activation engages two competing brain processes that affect recovery: "extinction" versus "reconsolidation" of trauma-related emotional, physiological, and behavioral responses. This study tests whether a single intravenous (IV) dose of allopregnanolone (Allo) compared to placebo (which is non-active):

promotes consolidation of extinction learning (sub-study 1) or blocks reconsolidation physiological responses triggered by aversive memories (sub-study 2).

The study also tests whether Allo compared to placebo affects retention of non-aversive memories.


Neural Mechanisms of Mindfulness-based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)_VA Only

Study Type: Interventional
Start Date: January 29, 2022
Eligibility: 18 Years to 72 Years, Does Not Accept Healthy Volunteers
Location(s): The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio, United States

This study will examine the effects of psychotherapy as treatment for PTSD. This research will see how brain activity and brain connectivity is affected by Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) and Muscle Relaxation Therapy (MRT). Participants that qualify to be in this study will receive 8 weeks of group therapy in MBCT or MRT. Prior to receiving therapy participants will: complete baseline assessments related to their PTSD; fill out surveys; have an functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI); and provide a saliva sample. These assessments will be repeated after the therapy is over. Overall study participation should last approximately 10-12 weeks.


Fear and Avoidance in PTSD Patients

Study Type: Interventional
Start Date: July 1, 2021
Eligibility: 18 Years to 70 Years, Accepts Healthy Volunteers
Location(s): NYU Langone Health, New York, New York, United States

The purpose of this research study is to study how the brain learn to avoid certain stimuli or situations using an experimental paradigm. The big goal is to measure brain responses and subject's feelings and expectations when they are learning to actively avoid experimental stimuli, and how fear extinction learning and monetary cost can change how and when subjects are to avoid.


Implementing a Skills Training Evidence-Based Treatment for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder in Primary Care

Study Type: Interventional
Start Date: June 29, 2021
Eligibility: 18 Years and Older, Does Not Accept Healthy Volunteers
Location(s): Boston Medical Center Clinics, Boston, Massachusetts, United States

A majority of residents in low income communities have been exposed to a potentially traumatic event, and up to half (30-50%) of trauma-exposed residents in safety net clinical settings meet criteria for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Despite this, only 13% receive treatment. Poor access to PTSD treatment is due to a shortage of mental health specialists.

This study aims to evaluate the implementation and effectiveness of a brief, cognitive-behavioral intervention for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD)-Skills Training in Affective and Interpersonal Regulation (STAIR)- that will be offered in Boston Medical Center (BMC)'s primary care clinics as the new standard of care following integrated behavioral healthcare (IBH) therapist training. In response to clinician capacity concerns and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, we will be offering the intervention in both clinician-administered and self-paced, web-administered formats. The evidence base suggests that STAIR, delivered both synchronously (in-person/telehealth STAIR) and asynchronously (webSTAIR), is associated with significant improvements in PTSD and depression symptoms.


Increasing Treatment Efficacy Using SMART Methods for Personalizing Care

Study Type: Interventional
Start Date: June 22, 2021
Eligibility: 18 Years and Older, Accepts Healthy Volunteers
Location(s): University of Kentucky, Lexington, Kentucky, United States

The proposed study will determine the feasibility, tolerability, and acceptability of a study that tests: 1) personalized treatment delivery (i.e., module sequencing and treatment discontinuation timing) aimed at increasing the efficiency of care, and 2) the research protocol designed to evaluate the effects of this personalized care. A sample of 60 participants with heterogeneous anxiety disorders (and comorbid conditions, including depression) will be enrolled in a pilot sequential multiple assignment randomized trial (SMART). Patients will be randomly assigned to one of three sequencing conditions: transdiagnostic treatment administered in its standard module order, module sequences that prioritize capitalizing on relative strengths, and module sequences that prioritize compensating for relative weaknesses. Next, after 6 sessions, participants will be randomly assigned to either continue or discontinue treatment to evaluate post-treatment change at varying levels of target engagement. This proposal will enable us to 1) test the feasibility, acceptability, and tolerability of the research protocol, treatment sequencing conditions, and early treatment discontinuation, 2) determine whether a preliminary signal that capitalization or compensation module sequencing improves treatment efficiency exists, and 3) explore preliminary associations between core process engagement at treatment discontinuation and later symptom improvement. The proposed study, and the subsequent research it will support, will inform evidence-based decision rules to make existing treatments more efficient, ultimately reducing patient costs and increasing the mental health service system's capacity to address the needs of more individuals.


A Mobile Health Solution for Homework During CBT

Study Type: Interventional
Start Date: June 10, 2021
Eligibility: 7 Years to 17 Years, Does Not Accept Healthy Volunteers
Location(s): University of South Florida, Tampa, Florida, United States

The purpose of this study is to preliminarily evaluate a web-based app to improve provider implementation and patient engagement in homework (i.e., between-session practice of skills learned during therapy) during child mental health treatment by conducting a small-scale feasibility trial in community practice settings comparing Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) to CBT enhanced with the app.


Effects of Delta9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) on Retention of Memory for Fear Extinction Learning in PTSD: R33 Study

Study Type: Interventional
Start Date: April 15, 2021
Eligibility: 18 Years to 60 Years, Does Not Accept Healthy Volunteers
Location(s): Eugene Applebaum College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, Detroit, Michigan, United States

The goal of this study is to look at how a type of drug called cannabinoids are related to the processing of fear signals, the experience of emotions and fear, and the pattern of activity in the brain that is involved in these processes and how this relates to the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). PTSD is an anxiety disorder that occurs after experiencing a traumatic event(s) and is characterized by unwanted memories of the trauma(s) through flashbacks or nightmares, avoidance of situations that remind the person of the event, difficulty experiencing emotions, loss of interest in activities the person used to enjoy, and increased arousal, such as difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep, anger and hypervigilance. The information gained from this study could lead to the development of new treatments for persons who suffer from anxiety or fear-based disorders.


Improving Therapeutic Learning for PTSD

Study Type: Interventional
Start Date: February 18, 2021
Eligibility: Females, 21 Years to 50 Years, Accepts Healthy Volunteers
Location(s): University of Wisconsin, Madison, Wisconsin, United States

The proposed project seeks to demonstrate the engagement of post-exposure dopamine neurotransmission and downstream acute reorganization of dopaminergic resting-state neural networks as a means of increasing consolidation of extinction memories formed during analogue exposure therapy in adult women with PTSD. Participants will include 120 women aged 21-50 with a current diagnosis of PTSD related to physical or sexual assault, English speaking, and medically healthy. Participants will complete the stages of the study across 2-3 days, depending on participant need.


A Randomized Trial of ImpACT+, a Coping Intervention for HIV Infected Women With Sexual Trauma in South Africa

Study Type: Interventional
Start Date: February 18, 2021
Eligibility: Females, 18 Years and Older, Does Not Accept Healthy Volunteers
Location(s): University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa

ImpACT+ (Improving AIDS Care after Trauma+), is an individual-level coping intervention to address traumatic stress and HIV care engagement among South African women with sexual trauma histories. We propose a full-scale randomized controlled trial to examine the effect of ImpACT+ on clinical outcomes in the period after ART initiation and to understand mental health and behavioral mechanisms through which viral suppression can be achieved. ImpACT+ will target women who are initiating ART in order to take advantage of a window of opportunity in HIV care and maximize care engagement. The aims are to test the effectiveness of ImpACT+ and explore its potential for implementation.


Effect of TMS on PTSD Biomarkers

Study Type: Interventional
Start Date: February 15, 2021
Eligibility: 18 Years to 65 Years, Does Not Accept Healthy Volunteers
Location(s): Grady Hospital, Atlanta, Georgia, United States

The study will (1) assess feasibility of a TMS treatment in an underserved population; (2) determine if this TMS treatment protocol improves PTSD symptoms and biological markers of PTSD such as brain functioning and startle responses; (3) define new brain targets for future TMS studies; (4) provide the first data for individual differences, which will help personalize treatment for PTSD patients; (5) improve knowledge of the neurobiology of PTSD and treatment response.


PTSD, AUD, and Interpersonal Conflict: Within-person Associations

Study Type: Interventional
Start Date: December 4, 2020
Eligibility: 18 Years to 60 Years, Does Not Accept Healthy Volunteers
Location(s): Sioux Falls VA Health Care System, Sioux Falls, South Dakota, United States; The University of South Dakota, Vermillion, South Dakota, United States

The present study seeks to increase understanding of Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD) and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) among veterans, an important public health concern. We will study the effects of regulatory deficits and sleep disturbance on the dynamic course of PTSD and AUD. The study will investigate whether a short, computerized training in the laboratory will alter maladaptive response biases and reduce associations between sleep disturbance, affect and behavioral dysregulation, AUD symptoms, and PTSD symptoms in the real world.


A Hybrid Type 2 Trial of Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and a Pragmatic Individual-Level Implementation Strategy

Study Type: Interventional
Start Date: August 27, 2020
Eligibility: 7 Years to 85 Years, Accepts Healthy Volunteers
Location(s): University of Washington, Seattle, Washington, United States

This research project is a hybrid type 2 effectiveness-implementation trial that simultaneously examines (1) the effectiveness of a trauma-focused intervention for youth in the education sector and (2) the impact of a theory-driven pragmatic implementation strategy designed to increase the adoption, fidelity, and sustainment of evidence-based treatments (EBTs). This trial will include 120 clinicians and 480 students, and it is designed to test the cost effectiveness and impact of Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT) in a new setting that increases access to mental health care - schools (Aim 1); test the cost effectiveness, immediate impact, and sustained impact of the Beliefs and Attitudes for Successful Implementation in Schools (BASIS) implementation strategy on proximal mechanisms and implementation outcomes (Aims 2a, 2b, 2d); and conduct sequential mixed-methods data collection to explain residuals (i.e., clinicians whose implementation behavior is unaccounted for by the mediation model) (Aim 2c).


Wakȟáŋyeža (Little Holy One)

Study Type: Interventional
Start Date: November 18, 2019
Eligibility: 18 Years and Older, Accepts Healthy Volunteers
Location(s): Fort Peck Tribal Head Start, Poplar, Montana, United States

The overall goal of this study is to develop, adapt and evaluate an intergenerational prevention intervention, named "Wakȟáŋyeža (Little Holy One)," with Native American caregivers on a Northern Plains reservation and the caregivers' 3-to-5-year-old children. The intervention aims to: 1) reduce symptoms of historical trauma and everyday stress among parents/caregivers, 2) improve parenting, and 3) improve children's emotional and behavioral developmental outcomes to reduce future risk for suicide and substance use.


Neuroendocrine Risk for PTSD in Women

Study Type: Interventional
Start Date: November 11, 2019
Eligibility: Females, 18 Years to 35 Years, Does Not Accept Healthy Volunteers
Location(s): Grady Memorial Hospital, Atlanta, Georgia, United States

This study will test for effects of estradiol (E2) on PTSD symptoms and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) indicators of stress vulnerability, in naturally-cycling women who are not using hormonal birth control. Enrollment will be targeted to create three groups within two cohorts (early follicular phase and luteal phase):

PTSD: Women who meet Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) criteria for PTSD Trauma-Exposed (TC): Women matched for age and trauma exposure severity but without PTSD Healthy Control (HC): Women matched for age, but without trauma history or psychiatric disorder (self-reported)

Women will be recruited through Grady Trauma Project (GTP), a large longstanding study of civilian trauma and PTSD conducted at Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta, Georgia.


A Lay-Led Intervention for War and Refugee Related Trauma

Study Type: Interventional
Start Date: July 14, 2018
Eligibility: 18 Years to 65 Years, Accepts Healthy Volunteers
Location(s): University of Washington, Seattle, Washington, United States; Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio, United States

This study will examine the initial efficacy and feasibility of a program called Islamic Trauma Healing by conducting a small RCT (N = 60) comparing Islamic Trauma Healing in an U.S. Somali refugee sample to a waitlist control on key targets of PTSD, depression, somatic symptoms, and quality of life. The hypothesis is that those in Islamic Trauma Healing will show a greater reduction of PTSD symptoms, depressive symptoms, and somatic symptoms and show a greater improvement in quality of well-being than those in the waitlist condition (WL).


Neuroeconomics of Social Behavior Following Trauma Exposure

Study Type: Observational
Start Date: November 14, 2017
Eligibility: Females, 18 Years to 45 Years, Accepts Healthy Volunteers
Location(s): McLean Hospital, Belmont, Massachusetts, United States

This study will use a neuroeconomic paradigm with state-of-the-art imaging protocols to probe abnormal social reward processing underlying social withdrawal in symptomatic trauma-exposed women. By also gathering self-report measures of social anhedonia, performance on non-social and social reward valuation tasks, and measures of real-world social functioning including social network size, we aim to specify how alterations in social reward processing result in social withdrawal and functional impairment.


Sustaining and Improving Clinicians' Use of Evidence-Based Psychotherapy (EBP) for PTSD

Study Type: Interventional
Start Date: May 6, 2015
Eligibility: 18 Years and Older, Accepts Healthy Volunteers
Location(s): Ryerson University, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

The purpose of the study is to compare the impact of two strategies to sustain and improve the delivery of an evidence-based psychotherapy for PTSD, Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT) in three different mental health systems. These approaches are based on two different theories of what is necessary to promote successful implementation. We will examine whether these strategies lead to improved patient outcomes, clinician skill, proportion of clients who receive CPT, and other outcomes that are relevant to the implementation of evidence-based psychosocial treatments. By examining these questions in 3 different mental health systems, we will also examine whether the implementation strategies yield different results in different systems.


Imaging Cannabinoid Receptors Using Positron Emission Tomography (PET) Scanning

Study Type: Observational
Start Date: July 31, 2010
Eligibility: Males, 18 Years to 55 Years, Accepts Healthy Volunteers
Location(s): Connecticut Mental Health Center, Clinical Neuroscience Research Unit, New Haven, Connecticut, United States

The aim of the present study is to assess the availability of cannabinoid receptors (CB1R) in the human brain. CB1R are present in everyone's brain, regardless of whether or not someone has used cannabis. The investigators will image brain cannabinoid receptors using Positron Emission Tomography (PET) imaging and the radioligand OMAR, in healthy individuals and several conditions including 1) cannabis use disorders, 2) psychotic disorders, 3) prodrome of psychotic illness and 4) individuals with a family history of alcoholism, 5) Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder 6) Opioid Use Disorder using the PET imaging agent or radiotracer, [11C]OMAR. This will allow us to characterize the number and distribution of CB1R in these conditions. It is likely that the list of conditions will be expanded after the collection of pilot data and as new data on cannabinoids receptor function and psychiatric disorders becomes available.

Those in the cannabis us disorder arm of the study will have a PET scan on at least three occasions: once while smoking as usual, once after 48-hours of abstinence from cannabis, and a final time after 4 weeks of abstinence. Additional scans may be conducted within the 4 weeks and the last scan may be conducted well beyond 4 weeks. Similarly, while most schizophrenia patients may get scanned just once, a subgroup of patients may get scanned more than once. For example to tease out the effects of medications, unmedicated patients may get scanned while unmedicated and again after treatment with antipsychotic medications. Similarly prodromes may get scanned while in the prodromal stage off medications, on medications and after conversion to schizophrenia.