PTSD and its treatment in people with intellectual disabilities: a review of the literature.

Peer-reviewed article
(2010 Apr) Clin Psychol Rev, 30 308-16


Mevissen L, de Jongh A


Although there is evidence to suggest that people with intellectual disabilities (ID) are likely to suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), reviews of the evidence base, and the potential consequences of this contention are absent. The purpose of this article is to present a comprehensive account of the literature on prevalence, assessment, and treatment of PTSD in people with ID. Some support was found for the notion that people with ID have a predisposition to the development of PTSD. Differences in comparison with the general population may consist of the expression of symptoms, and the interpretation of distressing experiences, as the manifestation of possible PTSD seems to vary with the level of ID. Since reliable and valid instruments for assessing PTSD in this population are completely lacking, there are no prevalence data on PTSD among people with ID. Nine articles involve treatment of PTSD in people with ID. Interventions reported involve those aimed to establish environmental change, the use of medication and psychological treatments (i.e., cognitive behavioral therapy, EMDR and psychodynamic based treatments). Case reports suggest positive treatment effects for various treatment methods. Development of diagnostic instruments for assessment of PTSD symptomatology in this population is required, as it could facilitate further research on its prevalence and treatment.