A critical review of mechanisms of adaptation to trauma: Implications for early interventions for posttraumatic stress disorder

Clinical Psychology Review

Richard A.Bryant



Although many attempts have been made to limit development of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) by early intervention after trauma exposure, these attempts have achieved only modest success. This review critiques the biological and cognitive strategies used for early intervention and outlines the extent to which they have prevented PTSD. The major predictors of PTSD are reviewed, with an emphasis on potential mechanisms that may underpin the transition from acute stress reaction to development of PTSD. This review highlights that there is a wide range of biological and cognitive factors that have been shown to predict PTSD. Despite this, the major attempts at early intervention have focused on strategies that attempt to augment extinction processes or alter appraisals in the acute period. The documented predictors of PTSD indicate that a broader range of potential strategies could be explored to limit PTSD. The evidence that people follow different trajectories of stress response following trauma and there is a wide array of acute predictors of PTSD indicates that a flexible and tailored approach needs to be investigated to evaluate more effective early intervention strategies.

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