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The fourth meeting of the International Consensus Group on Depression andAnxiety, held in Montecatini, Italy, in April 1999, took as its theme posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which has become an important disorder for us to consider because of its high prevalence, individual impact, and financial burden on society. By definition, PTSD is unlike the other anxiety disorders because its onset is dependent on exposure to a traumatic experience that patients are reluctant to discuss, a difference that undoubtedly contributes to the underrecognition of PTSD in clinical practice.

PTSD may arise from a single traumatic event such as a physical assault or a natural disaster or from exposure to a series of related experiences such as during a war or as a result of persistent sexual abuse.' ‹' ‹