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How Effective Is Prazosin for PTSD?

By Lee Johnson
Updated May 17, 2024
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Using prazosin for post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a somewhat effective treatment of the external symptoms of the condition. Patients who take prazosin for PTSD report less sleep disturbance and nightmares, which are commonly associated with the condition. Studies have shown that prazosin not only improves patients’ quality of sleep and dreams, it also generally reduces the patients’ scores on a PTSD severity test. This suggests that the drug can be used to help patients suffering from PTSD live a more ordinary life, while not actively curing the condition. It is important to note that prazosin for PTSD is still not a labeled usage; the drug is more commonly used for high blood pressure.

Between 70 and 87 percent of patients who suffer from PTSD experience nightmares or some kind of sleep disturbance. The use of prazosin for PTSD is primarily to combat these issues. Prazosin is classed as an adrenergic antagonist, which means that it works against the effects of adrenaline. One symptom of PTSD is that the patient often releases too much adrenaline, which can lead to problems with sleep and nightmares. When prazosin for PTSD is taken, the excess adrenaline is neutralized, leading to an improvement in sleep and a reduction in nightmares.

Other symptoms of PTSD stemming from excess adrenaline can also be managed through use of prazosin. Adrenaline causes stress, and PTSD is a stress disorder. This means that by counteracting the effects of adrenaline within the patient, using prazosin for PTSD causes a general decrease in stress. This decrease, however, is only present while the patient is taking the drug. When the treatment is discontinued, the issues will probably return.

Research conducted into the effects of prazosin for PTSD has shown that, when compared to a placebo, prazosin reduces disturbing dreams and makes it easier to fall and stay asleep. The effects of the drug on general PTSD symptoms are less pronounced, but patients taking the drug enjoyed an increase in functionality. This indicates the drug induced a reduction in the severity of PTSD.

It is important to note that prazosin for PTSD is not an indicated use of the drug. Studies do seem to indicate that the drug is effective in the management of the symptoms associated with the condition, but it is not a cure. Due to various side effects and possible drug interactions, only a doctor should prescribe prazosin for PTSD.

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