Posted: January 30, 2018

Posted: January 30, 2018

PTSD Monthly Update

In This Issue


Feature Topic


For Providers


Research at the Center


PTSD in the News

January 2018 Issue


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Feature Topic

Medications for PTSD, Explained

Drawing of two woman sitting in an office - a therapist and a client

The symptoms of PTSD can affect every area of your life. The good news is that there are treatment options that can help. While psychotherapy, sometimes called "counseling", has been shown to be the most effective treatment for PTSD, certain medications have also been proven to help decrease many of the core symptoms.

Is Medication is Right for Me?

Medication may be a good choice if you don’t want to try talk therapy now or if you can’t fit weekly therapy appointments into your life. Some people find that taking certain medication for PTSD while they are in therapy makes the process easier. Talk to your health care provider about which medications are right for you.

How do Medications Work?

Drawing of a therapist and patient

Watch a short video to learn more about PTSD how medications work.

What Medications Work Best?

Recommended medications for PTSD are called Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) or Selective Norepinephrine/Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SNRIs). They are both types of antidepressant medicine. These can help you feel less sad, worried, and improve your overall functioning. SSRIs include sertraline (Zoloft), paroxetine (Paxil) or fluoxetine (such as Prozac), and the SNRI venlafaxine (Effexor).

Do I Need to be Cautious about Certain Medications?

Some doctors have prescribed medications known as benzodiazepines for patients with PTSD to help with symptoms such as anxiety or insomnia. These medications may be known as Valium, Xanax, Klonopin or Ativan.

Benzodiazepines may help these symptoms in the short term, but we now know that they do not improve the overall symptoms of PTSD. Their helpful effects do not last and they come with possible safety concerns.

Atypical antipsychotics are another class of medication occasionally used for symptoms of PTSD. They also can have concerning side effects and are not typically recommended to treat PTSD.

What Medications Can I Take to Improve my Insomnia or Anxiety?

The first-line medication recommendations for PTSD, the antidepressants, are effective in treating your anxiety and insomnia symptoms. You also can benefit from cognitive behavioral therapy. Talk to your provider about safer, more effective treatment options.

Prazosin is a medication that works by decreasing the adrenaline produced by your body when you are stressed and has been shown to help some Veterans with trauma-related nightmares. Ask your health care provider if it may be right for you.

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For Providers

Consult with PTSD Experts

PTSD Consultation Program

The National Center's PTSD Consultation Program offers free PTSD consultation to any provider who treats Veterans in any setting.

PTSD Lecture Series

Free continuing education credits for our monthly lecture series.

Download a calendar reminder to save the date for the 3rd Wednesday of each month at 2 pm ET.


Subscribe to receive monthly emails that include a registration link and instructions for joining the live lectures.

February 2018 Lecture

  • February 21: PTSD Treatment Via Telehealth, Leslie, Morland, PsyD

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Research at the Center

Ketamine for treatment-resistant PTSD

Center investigators continue a ketamine trial (a drug which is typically used for sedation but also has rapid antidepressant effects) for treating PTSD in active duty military personnel and Veterans who do not respond to antidepressant treatment. The trial is part of the Consortium to Alleviate PTSD award and may yield a novel medication option for PTSD.

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PTSD in the News

VA’s National PTSD Brain Bank collaborates with PINK Concussions Group. VA announced a collaboration between its National Center for PTSD and the nonprofit organization PINK Concussions, encouraging women to donate their brains for the purpose of research of the effects of TBI and PTSD. Read more.*

Be sure to forward this update to others so they can subscribe. We send one update per month to keep you informed of the latest PTSD developments.

Thank you,

The Staff of VA’s National Center for PTSD

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Produced by VA’s National Center for PTSD - Executive Division
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VA does not endorse and is not responsible for the content of these linked websites.

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