Friday, August 23, 2013

Medicinal Options for PTSD Treatment

Many people suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD, feel there is no hope. They feel as though the way they feel today is the best they will feel for the rest of their lives. This is not true, nor a healthy way of feeling. Help and hope is readily available.

            The most common way to begin treating PTSD is through different medications. Depending on the symptoms, severity of symptoms, and the patient's history, a trained physician or psychiatrist can recommend prescription medications to help a sufferer begin the healing process.

            Most doctors typically want to begin treatment with an antidepressant. Unfortunately, the word "antidepressant" can be misleading. A person with PTSD may not feel depressed and therefore, may not welcome the use of a medication commonly used to treat depression. This misconception can lead to a patient's refusal of the medication. However, antidepressants can be incredibly helpful for a person suffering from PTSD.

            Different antidepressants work in different ways, but they all help to increase the amount of serotonin in the brain. Some help to create more serotonin, some help the brain to retain current serotonin, and others work in both ways. Serotonin is a naturally produced "feel good" hormone produced by the body. Stress, anxiety, depression, and lack of sleep are just a few things that deplete the body's supply of serotonin.

            In addition to feeling depressed, an imbalance in serotonin levels can also cause sleep problems, upset stomach, fatigue, and low levels can even slow the rate of healing for physical injuries. Common antidepressants used to treat PTSD include Paxil, Prozac, and Zoloft. While these three are the most commonly used, they are far from the only option. Everyone is different and the antidepressant that works for one person, may not work for another. It is imperative to work with a skilled doctor until the correct antidepressant and dose is found.

            Another helpful medication in treating PTSD is in the class of drugs called anti-psychotics. Please, do not be deterred by the name. Many people that do not fall under the mental health condition of psychosis use anti psychotics for a short period of time to minimize emotional outbursts, aid in restful sleep, and lower high anxiety levels. They also help reconnect a patient with their own lives while settling paranoia caused by PTSD. Common anti-psychotics used in the treatment of PTSD include Risperdal, Seroquel, and Zyprexa.

            Prazosin is often used off-label for patients experiencing nightmares and insomnia. It is traditionally used to lower blood pressure in patients with hypertension. This lowering of blood pressure in a PTSD patient allows for a more restful, uninterrupted night of sleep. All dreams either stop or become less frequent as soon as the first use. The patient is then able to sleep soundly instead of being haunted by the relentless images playing in their heads.

            Anti anxiety medications such as Alprazolam (Xanax), Clonazapam (Klonopin), Diazepam (Valium), and other related benzodiazepines help to relieve the panic experienced by those suffering from PTSD. This is a very common complaint from PTSD patients. They feel as though danger is not only near, but imminent, even while on an innocent outing with friends and family. The use of anti anxiety medications helps to ease the worries and relax the patient allowing more normal experiences, and thus, permitting a more normal life.


            While there are many more options, these are the most common medications prescribed for PTSD. It is important to be open and honest with all health care providers so they can find the correct combination of medications. PTSD is an invisible illness that only a sufferer can begin to describe, but help and hope are available.

Submitted By: Chelsea Johnson

3 comments:

  1. Gabapentin for everyone! (eh, or unless the contract runs out?

    ReplyDelete
  2. Gabapentin for everyone! (eh, or unless the contract runs out?

    ReplyDelete
  3. PTSD can have people feeling very awful.
    I'm told that art projects are a good therapy. I find it helps me, anyway.

    ReplyDelete