Newsletter excerpts: 9 New Studies and 2 tidbits on PTSD--May 2021

Posted by: Michelle Burns
Date Posted: May 19, 2021

Here is some of the information I recently shared in the May newsletter. Each newsletter has a specific focus.  This newsletter is focused on PTSD. If you would be interested in receiving my newsletters, which include links to the studies as well as special offers and sales coupons, please head over to my contact page and sign up.


  1. Giving thanks lowers PTSD severity
  2. The role of self-control demands
  3. Association of C-reactive Protein genetic variations on symptoms
  4. Aerobic exercise effects on women with and without PTSD
  5. Massage decreases stress for Veterans with PTSD
  6. Reuptake inhibitors affect MDMA-assisted psychotherapy
  7. Bright Light Treatment for combat related PTSD
  8. Functional neuroimaging in PTSD
  9. Is EMDR effective as treatment for PTSD?
  1. Book titled: In the Aftermath of the Pandemic
  2. World Health Organization includes PTSD and complex PTSD in ICD-11


1. A research paper, published in Oct 2020 titled Giving Thanks is Associated with Lower PTSD Severity: A Meta-Analytic Review in Journal of Happiness Studies, found a a moderate negative relationship between gratitude and PTSD severity

2.  A study titled Posttraumatic Stress Disorder and Conduct Problems: The Role of self-control demands, published in Journal of Traumatic Stress in Oct 2020, concluded: dysregulated behavior may, ironically, stem from individuals’ concerted efforts to control and manage overwhelming symptoms. Self-control demands may be a common factor that accounts for a broad range of functional impairments associated with PTSD.

3. A study titled Association of CRP genetic variation with symptomatology, cognitive function, and circulating pro inflammatory markers in civilian women with PTSD, published in Journal of Affective Disorders in Jan 2021, explored the association of C-reactive Protein genetic variations with blood pro-inflmmatory protein levels, symptomatology, and cognitive function, and further explored the moderating effect of childhood maltreatment history, in adult patients with PTSD. The results revealed a significant genotype by treatment interaction for more severe PTSD avoidance symptoms.

4. A study titled Aerobic exercise reduces anxiety and fear ratings to threat and increases circulating endocannabinoids in women with and without PTSD, published in Mental Health and Physical Activity in Nov 2020, concluded: 1) aerobic exercise reduced anxiety and fear ratings to unpredictable and predictable threats 2) circulating concentrations of endocannabinoids increased following aerobic exercise 3) mood states improved following aerobic exercise in women with PTSD, 4) aerobic exercise exerts psychological benefits in women with PTSD.

5. A research article titled Veterans with Post-traumatic Stress Disorder are Less Stressed Following Massage Therapy, published in Current Research in Complementary & Alternative Medicine in Aug 2020, concluded: the massage group had lower PTSD scores, fewer sleep disturbances, and expressed less intent of self-harm. In a follow-up one moth later, the massage group was no longer showing the improvement noted at the end of the study, although they continued to express less intent of self-harm. This highlights immediate positive effects of massage on memory, stress and heart rate and long-term effects on PTSD symptoms, sleep, and self-harm ideation. The absence of follow-up effects highlights the importance of continuing massage therapy (stimulation of pressure receptors) for these positive effects to persist.

6. A study titled Discontinution of medications classified as reuptake inhibitors affects treatment response of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy, published in Psychopharmacology, concluded: recent exposure to antidepressant drugs that target reuptake transporters may reduce treatment response o MDMA-assisted psychotherapy.

7. An study titled Bright Light Treatment of Combat-Related PTSD: A randomized Controlled Trial, published in Military Medicine in Jan 2021, concluded: short-term efficacy of bright light treatment on the primary variables (Clinician Assessed PTSD Scale and Clinical Global Impressions Scale) with clinical relevance (i.e.e, treatment response) in veterans with chronic PTSD who did not report extremely high habitual light exposure. No significant effects were found for anxiety, depression, or sleep disturbance.

8.  An article, published in The American Journal of Psychiatry in February 2021, titled Functional Neuroimaging in PTSD: From Discovery of Underlying Mechanisms to Addressing Diagnostic Heterogeneity proposes: The cause of limited treatment efficacy in PTSD may lie not only in the treatments themselves but in the heterogeneity within the diagnosis of PTSD. PTSD is currently defined by exposure to a wide variety of traumatic events and by a broad constellation of physical, affective, behavioral, and cognitive symptoms. Improving the diagnostic specificity of PTSD would yield more homogeneous patient samples and increase the likelihood of identifying clinically meaningful neurobiological markers, which could in turn serve as objective, measurable targets for novel and specific treatments. In trying to address the problem, functional neuroimaging studies have become central to efforts to characterize neural markers of PTSD.

9. A study titled Is EMDR Effective in Treatment of PTSD? published in Family Physicians Inquiries Network, Inc in 2021 concludes: In adults with post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) appears as effective as the standard of care (trauma-based cognitive behavioral therapy [CBT]) in improving PTSD. EMDR may be minimally to moderately superior to CBT in decreasing intrusion, arousal, anxiety, and post traumatic symptoms of PTSD.



  1.  There is a new book by John C. Markowitz titled In the Aftermath of the Pandemic: Interpersonal Psychotherapy for Anxiety, Depression, and PTSD, published by Oxford Press in 2021. It is available as an e-book or paperback from Google books, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, IndieBound, and Books-A-Million and runs from $14.60 to $29.99.
  2. The World Health Organization (WHO) ICD-11 now includes a distinction between the diagnoses of PTSD and complex PTSD (CPTSD). Several studies have indicated that this distinction is reliable and valid across various treatment services, communities and nations….The inclusion of a trauma-focused intervention is a common factor in the most successful treatments for PTSD symptoms. It is expected that as compared to PTSD, CPTSD may require a longer course of treatment and/or benefit from a greater diversity or type of interventions which include a focus on disturbances in self-organization.

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