A Review of PTSD Augmentation Strategies for Older Adults and Case of rTMS-Augmented Prolonged Exposure [Review]

SOURCE: American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry. 28(12):1317-1327, 2020 12.

AUTHORS: Yasinski C; Maples-Keller J; Trautner H; Job G; Rauch SAM; McDonald WM; Rothbaum BO

ABSTRACT: Evidence-based psychotherapies such as prolonged exposure therapy (PE) are recommended by clinical practice guidelines as first-line treatments for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and are safe and acceptable for use with older adults. One third to one half of all patients do not achieve a clinically meaningful response to standard outpatient PE and recent research suggests that older adults in particular may experience barriers to full engagement and response. Standard treatment may be challenging in older adults due to cognitive, medical, and psychosocial barriers. This article reviews the current state of the evidence on adjunctive and second-tier interventions that show promise for increasing response and/or engagement in evidence-based psychotherapy for PTSD, including medications such as d-cycloserine and 3,4-methylenedioxy-methamphetamine, neuromodulation techniques such as repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation, and augmentations to the structure and content of psychotherapy, such as intensive outpatient formats. A case illustration of successful application of multiple augmentations to PE with an initially nonresponsive older adult patient is presented. A creative interdisciplinary approach based in available research may be beneficial for older adults who do not respond to first-line treatments.