Antipsychotics Don’t Help PTSD Treatment

It seems that risperdal, an antipsychotic medication commonly prescribed for PTSD treatment to veterans with posttraumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, does not help alleviate symptoms of PTSD, according to a new study in the Journal of the American Medical Association

Antidepressants have failed to help with PTSD, but the FDA has only approved two antidepressant medication, Zoloft and Paxil, for PTSD treatment. Although neither drug is very effective it is more common for women to benefit more than men from the prescribed drug.

Because there aren’t many approved options for doctors who treat veterans with PTSD, most doctors prescribe antipsychotics  on an off-label basis, which is when doctors prescribe the drug for a use unapproved by the FDA.

At least 20% of those in the Veterans Administration that were diagnosed with PTSD took an antipsychotic in 2009. Risperdal is part of a class of drugs known as second-generation antipsychotics. This class of antipsychotics  makes up for 93.6% of all antipsychotics prescriptions given to veterans suffering from PTSD. The study showed that the veterans taking Risperdal had no significant improvement in symptoms compared to those taking a placebo over the six month course of treatment. The study was made up of 296 veterans who had severe PTSD in medical centers around the country from 2007 to 2009, with a follo-up in February of 2010.

Although finding effective types of PTSD treatment is crucial, it is not the only priority for veterans with PTSD. According to an editorial published alongside the Risperdal study, changing the negative perceptions that many of the veterans have about mental health care is also important to make sure that veterans enter PTSD treatment and complete it.

The current dropout rate for veterans undegoing PTSD treatment is really high states Charles W. Hoge, MD, of Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Silver Spring, Md. The estimated amount for current treatment strategies will not go over 20% of veterans needing PTSD treatment. To reach veterans who need PTSD treatment care require research to identify useful and safe medications as well as other helpful forms of therapy.

“Significant improvements in population care for war veterans will require innovative approaches to increase treatment reach,” Hoge concludes.

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