It is widely accepted in the United States and in other countries that Prolonged Exposure Therapy is the preferred treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder. A very thorough assessment was made of the PTSD treatments used by the Institute of Medicine which concluded that Exposure Therapy was the one form of therapy that had been proven to get results in treating post-traumatic stress disorder.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder affects more than twice the percentage of military personnel who’ve returned from Afghanistan and Iraq than other American’s (13% and 6% respectively). People suffering from PTSD have a lesser quality of life in both everyday functioning and carry a higher risk of health issues, namely cardiovascular disease, mellitus, diabetes and substance use conditions.

There are 4 basic components in Prolonged Exposure Therapy:

  1. Imaginal Exposure – This is systematic and repeated exposure to the memory of the traumatic experience.
  2. In Vivo Exposure – This is the systematic and repeated involvement in activities and situations that are not dangerous but have been avoided by the patient due to the distress it might cause from being related to the traumatic event.
  3. Psychoeducation – Has to do with educating the patient on Exposure Therapy and the common reactions that occur from the trauma.
  4. Breathing Retraining – Learning how to systematically breathe slowly and deeply through the nose with the mouth closed tightly. 

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) conducted a Prolonged Exposure Training Program that included 1931 veterans that were being treated for PTSD by 804 different clinicians. These clinicians were trained for 4 days in the technique of Prolonged Exposure then they started using the technique, under supervision, with at least 2 patients who were veterans with a primary diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder.

Assessments were conducted using the PTSD Checklist and the Beck Depression Inventory II picking up changes in post-traumatic stress disorder and symptoms of depression.  Subjects were fist assessed at baseline and then when they were receiving the final treatment. For those patients who dropped out before completing the 8 sessions, multiple and single imputation were used to estimate their post-treatment scores.


The analysis showed that Prolonged Exposure does work in reducing symptoms of both PTSD (pre-post d=0.87) and depression (pre-post d=0.66). The effect size compared to those that were reported in previous trials. The number of patients showing positive for post-traumatic stress disorder on the PTSD Checklist decreased from 87.6% to 46.2%, over a 50% improvement rate in just four days. Among male and female veterans alike from all wars as well as veterans with both combat-related and non-combat related post-traumatic stress disorder showed statistically significant reductions in the symptoms of PTSD. This study was the largest up until now on the effectiveness of Prolonged Exposure with veterans. The sample studied was very diverse, all treated by VA clinicians in true clinical settings.  The results of this study clearly show that Prolonged Exposure does bring about improvement in those suffering from PTSD and depression, for certain veteran patients. The results also show that this therapeutic technique works in the reduction of depression, even though that was not the objective of the technique or the study. In conclusion, these results show that because of the effectiveness of Prolonged Exposure in this study, this technique should be implemented in the treatment protocols of people experiencing post-traumatic stress disorder.

Because our treatment for depression and anxiety programs rely on evidence based practices, our Intensive Outpatient Program shares many common methods with other successful treatment methods.  The foundation of our treatment program for relies on the principles of the stages of change, cognitive behavioral therapy, solution focused treatment, skills training such as prolonged exposure and identifying repetitive dysfunctional behavioral relationship patterns to promote recovery from depression and other mental health disorders.  In fact, our Intensive Outpatient Program in Memphis, TN that has been proven to be effective in the treatment of these disorders in seven peer reviewed treatment outcome studies.  Unfortunately, in Tennessee, about 3.7% of all adults will have serious thoughts of suicide.  Furthermore, less half of all individuals with any mental illness in Tennessee will receive mental health treatment.

Our treatment center provides services to those who need more treatment than one hour a week, but less than 24 hour care, by providing three hours of treatment per day, three to five days per week, in an intensive outpatient setting. It is also important to keep in mind that women and men often experience depression differently and therefore the presence of depression may also appear differently based on gender. If you or a loved one is showing signs of depression or anxiety, including PTSD, they should be assessed by a trained mental health professional who can help design a treatment plan for depression that can result in recovery.  Treatment for depression and anxiety can be highly successful.  People who have completed our program have provide very high consumer satisfaction scores and reviewsCall us at 901-682-6136 to schedule an appointment.