It's estimated that one out of every five soldiers continue to play out scenes from the battlefield in their minds eye…long after they've returned home. These flashbacks and nightmares can be treated with anti-depressants, like Paxil and Zoloft.
However, many soldiers still suffer from post traumatic stress syndrome even while they take the drugs. That's when doctors bump up the prescription to anti-psychotic medication like Risperdal, even though that's never been tested for PTSD, until now.
Surprisingly, the results were a big disappointment. The investigators found people receiving the active medication didn't benefit more than those receiving the placebo. 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.
The six-month study of more than two-hundred fifty veterans found that Risperdal did not reduce the severity of PTSD symptoms, anxiety, or depression. Instead of improving quality of life, researchers found the drugs increased weight gain and fatigue.
Authors of the study say they were discouraged to learn the medication doesn't seem to work like they thought, but they say its progress. Because now that they know what doesn't work in helping soldiers, they can focus on what will work. 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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