Anti-Psychotic Drugs May Not Help Veterans Suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

12 Aug 2011

Antipsychotic drugs may not help veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.  In fact, a new study indicates to California veteran benefits lawyers that when it comes to helping veterans deal symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, these drugs are no more effective than placebos.

According to estimates, up to 20% of veterans returning from combat suffer from symptoms of post- traumatic stress disorder.  About 1/5th of these veterans are given anti-psychotic medications to treat the symptoms.  Earlier, antidepressants were used to treat symptoms in veterans, but these were found to have little effect.  Doctors began experimenting with the use of anti-psychotic medications that can dramatically alter mood. 

The growing use of anti psychotic medications to treat veterans is based on doctors’ experiences with anti-psychotic drugs and has little clinical basis.  Now however, a new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, indicates that antipsychotic medications may not be that effective in helping treat PTSD after all.

The study focused on Risperdal, which is often prescribed to veterans suffering from PTSD.  Researchers tested 120 veterans with posttraumatic stress disorder.  These veterans were put on a course of Risperdal.  These veterans had two things in common - they had all seen combat duty, and they had all used antidepressant drugs to treat posttraumatic stress disorder with little effect. 

Researchers found that after six months of treatment, the veterans who took Risperdal did not show any signs of progress, compared to another group of 124 veterans who had been given placebos instead of the drug.

The researchers are concluding that the use of Risperdal in this case did not benefit the patients.  In both groups of patients, 5% recovered from the symptoms, and between 10% and 20% reported some improvement in their symptoms.  Those results were consistent, regardless of whether the veterans received a placebo or Risperdal.  Even though the study focused on Risperdal, the researchers believe that the study findings will be the same with other anti psychotic drugs, including Seroquel.

At the very least, California veteran's disability benefits lawyers expect the study to push the medical community to review its approach to treatment of PTSD in veterans.