Sheila Rauch, PhD: PTSD Explained and Myths Debunked

PTSD develops from a traumatic “stuck memory” and all the consequences of that memory not getting processed, resolved, or grieved. But it can be effectively treated, not simply managed.

Sheila Rauch, PhD is the deputy director of the Emory Healthcare Veterans Program.

For information about treatments for PTSD visit The Treatment Hub.

Post-traumatic stress disorder is a very complex condition first of all. So, it’s very different for different people who are experiencing it. But at its core PTSD is the result of someone going through a traumatic or life-threatening situation and then the memory of that situation gets stuck in their brain. And because that memory is stuck and because they’re constantly feeling in danger or feeling at risk, they’re avoiding things and your life becomes smaller and smaller so that you try to keep yourself from thinking about that traumatic experience that you’ve had. But basically, PTSD is that stuck memory and then all the consequences of that memory being stuck are the experience of having post-traumatic stress disorder. I think the most problematic myth that’s out there is that PTSD is a disorder that can only be managed, that it can’t be treated. who we have really good treatments and there are many patients who no longer meet criteria for PTSD at the end of treatment. BrainLine is powered in part by Wounded Warrior Project to honor and empower post-9/11 injured service members, veterans, and their families.

Posted on BrainLine September 23, 2021. Reviewed September 23, 2021.

About the author: Sheila A.M. Rauch, PhD, ABPP

Sheila A.M. Rauch, PhD, ABPP, is the Deputy Director of the Emory Healthcare Veterans Program and Director of Mental Health Research and Program Evaluation at the VA Atlanta Healthcare System. Dr. Rauch has been developing programs, conducting research and providing PTSD and Anxiety Disorders treatment for over 20 years. Her research focuses on examination of mechanisms involved in the development and treatment of PTSD and improving access to effective interventions.

Professional headshot of Dr. Sheila Rauch smiling at the camera, wearing glasses in a royal blue top