Do PTSD Medications Work?

Wednesday, 30 Mar 2011 10:21 AM

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PTSD, or post-traumatic stress disorder, is caused by experiencing tragic, traumatic events. Some of the events that are included are wartime, physical and/or sexual abuse, car and plane crashes, rape, sudden loss of a family member, and childhood neglect. PTSD requires at least psychotherapy and in more severe cases, prescription medications to alleviate the symptoms.

Some of the primary symptoms of PTSD include:
  • Detachment
  • Mood Swings
  • Anger
  • Guilt
  • Depression
  • Lack of interest in life and activities
  • Flashbacks of reliving the event
  • Nightmares
  •  Panic attacks and anxiety

Specific therapies like family therapy, cognitive, exposure, cognitive behavior therapy, and EMDR (eye movement and desensitization and reprocessing) are commonly used to help the victim learn to cope with the experience. These therapies can take weeks, months, or years depending on the circumstances and the individual. Some cases are so severe that medications are needed to relieve symptoms during therapy.

Some of the prescription medications used for PTSD sufferers can include antidepressants for depression, anti-psychotics for nightmares and flashbacks
like Abilify, Clozaril, and Zyprexa, and Benzodiazepines like Xanax, Ambien, and Librium, for relaxation and sleep.

Post-traumatic stress disorder medications have pros and cons just like any other prescription medications. Overall, when used properly, these medications do alleviate some of the most severe symptoms for PTSD sufferers.

What are the pros and the cons of post-traumatic stress disorder?

Pros:
1. Crisis prevention - Medications can help prevent and control escalating crises and allow the person to go on normally with life.
2. Fast-acting - Medications work faster than to provide a temporary solution in a crisis situation and for depression and anxiety.
3. Therapy aid - Therapy proves to be ineffective for some people and medications can help to control and alleviate PTSD symptoms.

Cons:
1. Drug dependency - These drugs are habit-forming and for some people with addictive personalities this can become a life-threatening issue.
2. Side effects - Due to the nature of the medications used for treating PTSD, side effects may occur. These drugs can put more strain on your heart, trigger diabetes, and create more amplified PTSD symptoms.
3. Immunity - Long-term use of these types of drugs can cause the body to become immune to their effectiveness resulting in recurrence of symptoms.

More research is constantly being done to improve therapy and medications for PTSD. Family and friends are a vital part of the recovery of a person suffering from PTSD. Patience, compassion, and understanding are required attitudes in their recovery in conjunction with therapy and medications.

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