Adding antipsychotics does little for PTSD
Treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), a severe anxiety disorder that can follow traumatic events, commonly includes antidepressant medications. However, many PTSD sufferers do not get relief from these drugs. In such cases, anti-psychotics such as risperidone, usually used to treat schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, are often added to the patient’s drug regimen.
“There is not a lot of evidence to guide psychiatrists caring for patients with treatment-resistant PTSD,” says John H. Krystal, M.D., Robert L. McNeil Jr. Professor of Translational Research, chair of the Department of Psychiatry, and director of the Clinical Neuroscience Division of the Department of Veterans Affairs National Center for PTSD. A new study by the (VA) and a Yale team led by Krystal, the first focused on antidepressant-resistant PTSD symptoms, indicates that risperidone is ineffective as an adjunct treatment.
In the six-month study, published August 3 in JAMA, 247 subjects with PTSD received either risperidone or a placebo in addition to their existing treatments. Standard measures showed no significant reduction in PTSD symptoms in the group of veterans receiving risperidone, highlighting the need for further research in this area.