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Mil Med. 2012 Jun;177(6):649-54.

Pharmacological prevention of combat-related PTSD: a literature review.

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School of Nursing, Western Carolina University, 1459 Sand Hill Road, G-33 Candler, NC 28715, USA.


Preventing posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) could have a significant positive impact on military readiness and quality of life. Few studies have examined whether pharmacological agents may prevent PTSD, and there has not been a systematic and critical review of these studies in order to guide future research efforts. We performed a literature review of articles examining the use of pharmacological agents for the prevention of PTSD. A total of 27 articles met inclusion criteria for the review and their results are summarized. The review points to corticosteroids and propranolol as the most promising agents for future research. Gamma-Amino butyric acid mimetic drugs received the least support. Complementary approaches using psychotherapy and pharmacological agents could also yield good results. Research aimed at determining the potential efficacy of these agents could start being carried out in the field with smaller numbers of personnel that has not been personally injured but have witnessed traumatic events. In addition, psychological interventions immediately after postdeployment could be used in large numbers of soldiers. Preliminary studies regarding the use of pharmacologic agents for the secondary prevention of PTSD are promising. However, much larger studies are needed before implementation in generalized practice.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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