Emerging roles for atypical antipsychotics in chronic post-traumatic stress disorder

Department of Psychiatry, Ralph H Johnson Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center and Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, SC 29401, USA.
Expert Review of Neurotherapeutics (Impact Factor: 2.78). 04/2005; 5(2):267-75. DOI: 10.1586/14737175.5.2.267
Source: PubMed


Post-traumatic stress disorder is an anxiety disorder that may occur after the individual is exposed to severe psychologic trauma such as combat, sexual assault, or childhood physical or sexual abuse. Chronic post-traumatic stress disorder may result in considerable psychologic pain and suffering for the individual in addition to significant functional impairment. In addition to the heterogeneity of symptoms that occur in post-traumatic stress disorder, there may also be extensive comorbidity with other anxiety disorders, mood disorders, psychotic disorders, and other psychiatric disorders. This complicates the treatment picture. Currently, accepted treatments for post-traumatic stress disorder include psychotherapy, in particular cognitive behavioral-based approaches and antidepressant medication. However, many patients are refractory to these initial treatments or have only a partial response. In light of this, may clinicians combine additional classes of psychotropic agents and different psychotherapeutic approaches to enhance treatment response. This article reviews the literature on the use of atypical antipsychotics in the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder. Most of the research to date has involved combat veterans partially responsive or refractory to treatment, namely with antidepressants. Studies have shown improvement across post-traumatic stress disorder symptom clusters, as well as improvement in comorbid psychotic symptoms or disorders. More research is needed to confirm these recent findings and further delineate the role of atypical antipsychotics in the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder. Currently, possible indications for their use include treatment-resistant post-traumatic stress disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder with comorbid psychotic features.

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    • "These drugs differ from the more typical antipsychotics due to their actions on various neurotransmitter systems apart from dopamine. Specific actions common to these medications include antagonism of D 2 , 5-HT 2 , and α 1 adrenergic receptors as well as antihistaminic activity, with partial 5-HT 1A effects seen in particular atypicals (Hamner and Robert, 2005). Dopaminergic dysfunction has been implicated in the presence of psychotic symptoms that are sometimes seen in PTSD, but has also been proposed to play a role in hyperarousal symptoms such as irritability, hypervigilance and exaggerated startle (Weiss, 2007). "
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    ABSTRACT: Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a prevalent anxiety disorder that results in multiple disabling symptoms. Research into the underlying neurobiology has implicated dysregulation in multiple neurotransmitter systems including norepinephrine, serotonin, and glutamate as well as the hypothalamic-pituitary axis. Understanding how these biological systems interact with each other and how they may affect key neural structures, such as the amygdala, hippocampus, and prefrontal cortex, to produce post-traumatic symptoms is critical for the development of effective pharmacological treatments. We briefly discuss the proposed biological dysfunctions underlying PTSD and how agents that target these dysfunctions may be utilized in PTSD. We then provide a review of the different pharmacological agents that have been investigated in PTSD. These drugs include: antidepressants, anti-adrenergic agents, anticonvulsants, benzodiazepines, atypical antipsychotics, and novel agents.
    Preview · Article · Apr 2009 · Brain research
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    ABSTRACT: Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a prevalent psychiatric disorder that may result in significant social and occupational debilitation unless symptoms are recognized and treated appropriately. Considerable research effort has been devoted over the last 20 years to developing effective pharmacological treatments for this illness. At this time, the bulk of the agents investigated include antidepressants, anticonvulsants, atypical antipsychotics, benzodiazepines, and antiadrenergic agents. Herein, we review the existing evidence base for these different classes of psychotropics in PTSD. Emphasis is placed on discussion of evidence stemming from randomized placebo-controlled clinical trials wherever possible. A brief description of novel agents that have shown initial promise for PTSD treatment is also provided.
    No preview · Article · Nov 1999 · The Lancet
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