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Letters to the Editor
August 2006

Distinguishing Current From Remitted Posttraumatic Stress Disorder

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2006;63(8):940-941. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.63.8.940

The article by Breslau et al1 “Sleep in Lifetime Posttraumatic Stress Disorder: A Community-Based Polysomnographic Study” makes an important contribution to the posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) sleep literature, but we are concerned that it may be misconstrued as a study of patients who currently have this condition. Though the term lifetime PTSD is strictly accurate, only a small number of subjects (18%) were symptomatic when studied in the laboratory. Nevertheless, long before the sample is precisely described in the “Results” section, the “lifetime” descriptor is dropped in favor of “PTSD” or “the PTSD group,” labels understood by most to indicate current PTSD status. Insofar as 82% of subjects were in remission, that studies of remitted patients are rare, and that many of the findings of the study are wholly compatible with remitted status, it seems to us that additional efforts were warranted to establish and sustain in the reader's mind an accurate picture of the sample.

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