McLean, Va.(WUSA)-- A powerful tool in combating post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) may be getting both the sufferer- and his or her significant other- into therapy.

A study outTuesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association shows couples therapy that tackled both on the PTSD symptoms and the stresses on the relationship made a four-fold impact compared to people not getting that help- and the improvement lasted for months.

Researchers tested 40 couples, each of which included one partner with PTSD. Half of the couples were put on a waiting list for therapy, during which they were allowed to stay intheir currenttherapy as long as it was not for PTSD. The remaining coupleswent tocouples therapy once or twice per week, for a total of 15 sessions.

Dr. Gary Kaplan, D.O. ofThe Kaplan Centerfor Integrative Medicine in McLean says, "PTSD as all mental illness is a family illness, it doesn't just affect the individual it affects everyone in the family.

PTSD is caused by traumatic experiences, which may include combat, natural disasters, serious car accidents, and sexual assaults.

People withthe disorderoften become emotionally withdrawn. They avoid places that remind them of the original trauma.

Around7.8 percent of Americans will experience PTSD at some point in their lives, according to the Nebraska Department of Veterans' Affairs.

Dr. Kaplan says, "This approach of treating it as such is I think exactly spot on and proven through this study to be highly effective."

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