Sexual Problems Predict PTSD and Depression Symptom Change Among Male OEF/OIF Veterans Completing Exposure Therapy

Christal L. Badour, Daniel F. Gros, Derek D. Szafranski, Ron Acierno

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Objective: A growing literature documents frequent sexual problems among Operations Enduring/Iraqi Freedom (OEF/OIF) veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). However, there has been no examination of how (1) sexual problems may be affected by evidenced-based psychotherapy for PTSD or (2) how the presence of sexual problems might impact effectiveness of evidenced-based psychotherapy for PTSD. As such, the present study investigated associations among symptoms of PTSD, depression, and problems with sexual desire and arousal among 45 male OEF/OIF veterans receiving behavioral activation and therapeutic exposure (BA-TE), an evidence-based behavior therapy targeting co-occurring symptoms of PTSD and depression. Method: Participants completed clinical interviews and several questionnaires including measures of sexual arousal, sexual desire, PTSD symptoms, and depression symptoms at baseline and after completion of 8 sessions of BA-TE treatment. A records review was also conducted to assess for relevant medication use. Results: Overall, sexual desire and sexual arousal problems did not improve during the course of treatment. Moreover, veterans with co-occurring sexual problems at baseline evidenced significantly less improvement in symptoms of PTSD and depression across treatment as compared to veterans without sexual problems. Conclusions: These findings suggest that veterans with co-occurring symptoms of PTSD and sexual problems may require additional assessment and treatment considerations in order to improve their treatment outcomes for both primary psychiatric symptoms as well as sexual problems. Future research on combination treatments of medication for sexual problems and psychotherapy for PTSD is needed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)403-417
Number of pages15
JournalPsychiatry (New York)
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 1 2016

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
Copyright © Washington School of Psychiatry.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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