Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Common PTSD Drug Is No More Effective Than Placebo

Date:
December 5, 2006
Source:
University of California - San Francisco
Summary:
Guanfacine, a medication commonly prescribed to alleviate symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, is no more effective than a placebo, according to a study led by researchers at the San Francisco VA Medical Center.

Guanfacine, a medication commonly prescribed to alleviate symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, is no more effective than a placebo, according to a study led by researchers at the San Francisco VA Medical Center.

"There was no benefit at all, and there were several adverse side effects," says lead author Thomas Neylan, MD, medical director of the PTSD treatment program at SFVAMC. "People with symptoms of PTSD should probably stay away from this drug and others of its type."

The study appears in the December 1, 2006 issue of the American Journal of Psychiatry.

Guanfacine belongs to a class of medications known as alpha-2 agonists, which lower the brain's supply of the neurotransmitter norepinephrine. Neurotransmitters are chemicals that transmit electrical signals between nerve cells. They are responsible for many aspects of behavior.

"Norepinephrine is released in the brain during states of excited arousal, and PTSD is associated with that state -- patients startle easily, have trouble sleeping, and are hypervigilant and anxious," explains Neylan, who is also an associate professor of psychiatry at the University of California, San Francisco.

Guanfacine and clonidine, another alpha-2 agonist, are commonly prescribed for PTSD symptoms. "There are at least 20 peer-reviewed articles published in the field of PTSD that recommend drugs which lower norepinephrine," Neylan says. "However, ours was the first randomized, controlled study of alpha-2 agonists for symptoms of PTSD."

The double-blind study compared the effects of guanfacine and an identical looking placebo pill on 63 male and female veterans at four VA medical centers in California and Hawaii. Twenty-nine participants were randomly assigned to take weekly doses of the drug, and 34 were assigned the placebo, for eight weeks.

At the end of the study, the effect of guanfacine on PTSD symptoms was "zero," and there were no differences between men and women or older versus younger veterans. In addition, the subjects who took guanfacine had significantly more somnolence, lightheadedness, and dry mouth than those who took placebo.

The study authors conclude, "These results do not support the use of alpha 2 agonists in veterans with chronic PTSD."

Neylan speculates that instead of lowering the overall level of norepinephrine, a more effective approach might be to inhibit the ability of brain cells to respond to the neurotransmitter. He notes that this is the action of prazosin, a blood pressure medication that has been found by other researchers to decrease the incidence of nightmares in combat veterans with PTSD.

Study co-authors were Maryann Lenoci, MA, and Kristin W. Franklin, PhD, of SFVAMC; Thomas J. Metzler, MA, of UCSF and SFVAMC; Clare Henn-Haase, PsyD, of SFVAMC; Robert W. Hierholzer, MD, of UCSF and Fresno VA Medical Center, Fresno, Calif.; Steven E. Lindley, MD, PhD, of Stanford University and Palo Alto VA Medical Center, Palo Alto, Calif.; Christian Otte, MD, of UCSF, SFVAMC, and University Hospital Hamburg-Eppendorf, Germany; Frank B. Schoenfeld, MD, of UCSF and SFVAMC; Jerome A. Yesavage, MD, of Stanford University and PAVAMC; and Charles R. Marmar, MD, of SFVAMC and UCSF.

The study was funded by support from the Department of Veterans Affairs.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of California - San Francisco. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of California - San Francisco. "Common PTSD Drug Is No More Effective Than Placebo." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 5 December 2006. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/12/061201105942.htm>.
University of California - San Francisco. (2006, December 5). Common PTSD Drug Is No More Effective Than Placebo. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 16, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/12/061201105942.htm
University of California - San Francisco. "Common PTSD Drug Is No More Effective Than Placebo." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/12/061201105942.htm (accessed April 16, 2014).

Share This



More Mind & Brain News

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Are School Dress Codes Too Strict?

Are School Dress Codes Too Strict?

AP (Apr. 16, 2014) Pushing the limits on style and self-expression is a rite of passage for teens and even younger kids. How far should schools go with their dress codes? The courts have sided with schools in an era when school safety is paramount. (April 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Could Even Casual Marijuana Use Alter Your Brain?

Could Even Casual Marijuana Use Alter Your Brain?

Newsy (Apr. 16, 2014) A new study conducted by researchers at Northwestern and Harvard suggests even casual marijuana use can alter your brain. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Cognitive Function: Is It All Downhill From Age 24?

Cognitive Function: Is It All Downhill From Age 24?

Newsy (Apr. 15, 2014) A new study out of Canada says cognitive motor performance begins deteriorating around age 24. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
App Fights Jet Lag With The Power Of Math

App Fights Jet Lag With The Power Of Math

Newsy (Apr. 13, 2014) Researchers at the University of Michigan have designed an app to fight jet lag by adjusting your body's light intake. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins