Author: Dennis Hickey
365 Questions for a Better You
Medications for PTSD, Explained
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.
- Learn about all your treatment options with the PTSD Treatment Decision Aid
- Hear from Veterans about How Treatment Has Helped
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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Strategies for Protecting Your Relationships When Challenges Get in the Way
Relationships with friends, family members, and co-workers can have a major impact on your everyday life.
The love, support, and friendship of people who care about you can enhance the good times and may help you get through the bad.
But certain life challenges, such as experiencing posttraumatic stress disorder, financial troubles, or a job loss, can put a strain on any relationship – no matter how close it is.
Look out for signs that your relationships are under stress
Many people need time to adjust after an intense experience or major change in their lives. Sometimes the stresses of adjusting contribute to family problems or relationship issues.
You may want to reach out for help if you’re experiencing any of the following feelings and behaviors or noticing them in someone that you know:
· Hopelessness, feeling like there’s no way out
· Anxiety, agitation, sleeplessness, or mood swings
· Feeling like there is no reason to live
· Rage or anger
· Engaging in risky activities
· Increasing alcohol or drug abuse
· Withdrawing from family and friends
What can I do about family and relationship issues?
There are several steps you can take to help relieve the stress on your relationships. Start by trying to:
· Get the right amount of sleep.
· Maintain a healthy diet.
· Make a communication plan for expressing your thoughts and feelings with those you care about; think about what you want to say and how to say it.
· Listen to what others who care about you have to say.
· Find something social to do – this may be a hobby, volunteer work, or participation in worship services.
· Pace your social involvement and family activities; don’t overdo it or overwhelm yourself.
· Discover how to spend time with others in ways that aren’t too emotionally or physically demanding.