Nonconventional interventions for chronic post-traumatic stress disorder: Ketamine, repetitive trans-cranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS), and alternative approaches

Basant Pradhan*, Jessica Kluewer D’Amico, Ramkrishna Makani, Tapan Parikh

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


It is alarming that only 59% of those who have post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) respond to selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors. Many existing treatments, both pharmacological and nonpharmacological, do not directly target trauma memories that lay at the core of the PTSD pathogenesis. Notable exceptions are medications like ketamine and propranolol and trauma-focused psychotherapies like eye-movement desensitization and reprocessing therapy (developed by Shapiro) and Trauma Interventions using Mindfulness Based Extinction and Reconsolidation (TIMBER) for trauma memories (developed by Pradhan). Although the antidepressant effects of ketamine are no longer news, ketamine’s effects on treatment refractory PTSD (TR-PTSD) is a recent concept. As TR-PTSD has a marked public health burden and significant limitations in terms of treatment interventions, a thorough assessment of current strategies is required. Research to bring clarity to the underlying pathophysiology and neurobiology of TR-PTSD delineating the chemical, structural, and circuitry abnormalities will take time. In the interim, in the absence of a 1-size-fits-all therapeutic approach, pragmatically parallel lines of research can be pursued using the pharmacological and nonpharmacological treatments that have a strong theoretical rationale for efficacy. This article aims to review the current literature on interventions for PTSD, most notably ketamine, trans-cranial magnetic stimulation treatment, yoga and mindfulness interventions, and TIMBER. We present an outline for their future use, alone as well as in combination, with a hope of providing additional insights as well as advocating for developing more effective therapeutic intervention for this treatment-resistant and debilitating condition.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)35-54
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Trauma and Dissociation
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Alternative medicine
  • complementary medicine
  • innovative treatments
  • psychopharmacology
  • psychotherapeutic
  • severe mental illness
  • trauma memory
  • traumatic stress

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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