PTSD Drugs Fall Flat

Tuesday, August 2, 2011 - 2:28pm

Study finds common treatment doesn't ease symptoms.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is the most common condition treated at veterans hospitals across the country, and for some returning soldiers standard drugs don't work.

Now new research shows the second line of treatment may not help either.

Veterans with PTSD have flashbacks and nightmares and can have trouble adjusting to life at home.

Antidepressants like Paxil and Zoloft are the medications doctors turn to first to treat PTSD,
but many soldiers still have symptoms while on these drugs.

So doctors try an anti-psychotic medication called Risperidone, sold under the brand name Risperdal.

Until now it's never been formally tested as a PTSD treatment.

The new six-month study of more than 250 veterans found Risperdal did not reduce the severity of PTSD symptoms, anxiety or depression.

Soldiers' quality of life didn't change and they had an increased risk for weight gain and fatigue.

"Sometimes the common wisdom is not accurate, and that we really do need to pay attention to what medications have evidence to support their use in our patients," says UCLA psychiatrist Dr. Ian Cook.

The study authors say they were discouraged to learn the medication doesn't seem to work like they thought, but they say it's progress.

Now they know what drugs won't help soldiers, so they can focus on finding drugs that do.

Medication isn't the only options for veterans suffering from PTSD.

Studies show counseling helps, as well as experimental treatments like shock therapy.

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