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Health Team

Study: Anti-psychotic ineffective for veterans' PTSD

Posted August 2, 2011 1:38 p.m. EDT
Updated August 2, 2011 6:34 p.m. EDT

Post-traumatic stress disorder is the most common and costly psychiatric condition that affects veterans.

Therapies and medications are used to manage the symptoms, but researchers have found that a commonly prescribed anti-psychotic drug called Risperidone is not effective for many veterans.

Researchers tested the effectiveness of Risperidone – often used along with the antidepressants Paxil and Zoloft – in reducing PTSD symptoms in a group of 267 veterans from 23 VA medical centers.

The study, published in the latest issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, shows that adding Risperidone to other medications didn't seem to help these patients.

"It shows us that just because a medication can be widely prescribed, it doesn't mean necessarily that it's really helpful overall for the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder," said Dr. John H. Krystal with the Veteran Affairs National Center for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Researchers also say some study participants reported side effects that included weight gain and drowsiness after taking Risperidone.

There are still other treatments and medications that can help with PTSD. They have proven successful for Anthony Dozier, who served in Operation Desert Storm.

He started experiencing symptoms shortly after returning home from war.

"It was a huge void," he said. "It was almost like I didn't fit into this life that I came back to."

The former drill sergeant faced a long, hard road.

"I didn't realize what was going on with me mentally at the time, because I'm a soldier and I can fix anything," Dozier said.

He couldn't fix his PTSD, but treatment with a therapist and medications have helped him.

Dozier says he is now happy and enjoying a good relationship. He says recovering from PTSD is possible.

"It never goes away, but you can live, like I do now, a healthy and prosperous life," Dozier said.