Abstract:

Deployment stressors—most notably exposure to combat (1)—have profound effects on mental health (2). It is estimated that approximately 20% of military veterans develop posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) (3), while approximately 7%−10% develop alcohol use disorders and 17% experience major depressive disorder (4). These mental health issues have profound effects on social functioning and the ability to work, and they increase utilization of health care services (5). Standardized behavioral treatments are helpful but have limited effect size (6), and exposure-based interventions seem best suited for combat-related PTSD (7). Yet a significant gap between treatment need and availability remains. Computerized treatment techniques might be able to address this gap. These methods are firmly rooted in cognitive science and provide a useful approach to specifically treat basic cognitive processing dysfunctions in PTSD. In this issue, Badura-Brack and colleagues (8) address a critical question, i.e., For individuals with PTSD, is it better to train paying attention to safe instead of threat stimuli or to increase control of attention to both safe and threat stimuli? and provide a provocative answer.

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