Study: PTSD drug could cause do more harm than good by worsening nightmares

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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) -- A professor at the Medical College of Georgia in Augusta is responding to a study about a PTSD drug with one of his own.

The drug Prazosin is used for treating high blood pressure as well as PTSD-related sleep problems. A study looked into whether the drug could reduce suicidal thoughts.

A report on the study in the Journal of Clinical Psychopharmacology states the drug may make nightmares and suicidal thoughts associated with PTSD even worse.

“I think we have to view this as not the final word on this, but it raises questions,” says Dr. W. Vaughn McCall, chair of the Department of Psychiatry and Health Behavior at MCG.

Dr. McCall is looking for more information from PTSD experts, but says Prazosin could help a bit, but is most likely not the best option if suicide is an active concern in a patient.

According to a press release from Augusta University, McCall’s pilot study is the first in which all participants had suicidal thoughts or actions.

“It did not seem to do much for suicidal ideation and that was somewhat disappointing, but the thing what was mind-blowing was that is actually worsened nightmares,” says McCall. “Maybe it’s not for everybody.”

He notes that with PTSD, a patient’s nightmares often focus on the trauma that produced their disorder.

The FDA currently approves the antidepressants Sertraline and Paroxetine for PTSD.