PTSD Treatment for Veterans May Start to Look Different

August 4th, 2011

A recent study has shown that antipsychotics are no more
effective than placebos in helping veterans overcome PTSD symptoms.

Dr. John Krystal of the Veterans’ Affairs National Center for PTSD surveyed 247 combat veterans who had been randomly assigned to take either a placebo or the antipsychotic Risperdal. The participants had previously shown no response to at least two antidepressants. There was little to no difference found in symptom improvement between the placebo and Risperdal groups. Only 5% of participants in either group reported full recovery, while 10-20% reported some improvement.

Some may interpret this study as a sign that PTSD is a pathological life sentence. Consider a different persepective: what is “disordered” about experiencing anxiety and fear after going through war? Is this really a “disease” that stems from a physiological flaw? It seems that this assumption has been used to prescribe treatment that is unhelpful to many veterans. Perhaps this study can steer mental healthcare in a different direction–one that gives veterans (and others) a bit more respect.

Is it time to start rethinking our perceptions of conditions like PTSD?

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