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Gros DF, Price M, Strachan M, Yuen EK, Milanak ME, Acierno R. Behavioral activation and therapeutic exposure: an investigation of relative symptom changes in PTSD and depression during the course of integrated behavioral activation, situational exposure, and imaginal exposure techniques. Behavior Modification. 2012 Jul 1; 36(4):580-99.
Effectiveness of exposure therapy for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) may be adversely influenced by comorbid disorders. The present study investigated behavioral activation and therapeutic exposure (BA-TE), a new integrated treatment designed specifically for comorbid symptoms of PTSD and depression. Combat veterans with PTSD (N = 117) completed eight sessions of BA-TE that included two phases of treatment: (a) behavioral activation (BA) in which some activities involved situational exposures and (b) BA and situational exposures with imaginal exposures. Findings supported improvements in symptoms of PTSD, and overlapping symptoms of PTSD and depression, but not in nonoverlapping symptoms of depression. The findings also demonstrated a relatively consistent rate of change in PTSD and depression symptoms during BA-TE, despite the addition of imaginal exposures midway through the treatment. Together, these findings provide preliminary support for BA-TE as a treatment for PTSD and depression, and highlight the utility of transdiagnostic treatments in addressing comorbidity and symptom overlap.