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Clinically, the principles of extinction learning form much of the foundation for the most effective behavioral therapies for fear-related anxiety disorders. Within the general class of anxiety disorders, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is unique in the sense that the precipitating traumatic event may provide the opportunity for acute intervention before the onset of symptoms and before memories have been consolidated. The use of propranolol to treat individuals with posttraumatic stress symptoms was initially described in a case series of physically and sexually abused children with severe symptoms of agitation. An alternative consolidation-blockade approach to the use of propranolol involves the administration of glucocorticoids to trauma-exposed patients. Finally, clinically directed interference with initial memory consolidation through the use of beta-blockers or glucocorticoids following acute trauma exposure could prevent or attenuate the formation of traumatic emotional memory and reduce risk of PTSD.
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