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Am J Psychiatry. 1988 Mar;145(3):281-5.

Toward rational pharmacotherapy for posttraumatic stress disorder: an interim report.

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  • 1Psychiatry Service, VA Hospital, White River Junction, VT.


There is growing evidence that medication can alleviate symptoms associated with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Recent research also suggests that PTSD has a unique biological profile consisting of alterations in sympathetic arousal, the neuroendocrine system, and the sleep/dream cycle. This profile distinguishes PTSD from both major depression and panic disorder. Medication appears to alleviate PTSD symptoms associated with sympathetic hyperarousal and intrusive recollections of the trauma but seems ineffective against avoidant symptoms. Pharmacotherapy alone is rarely sufficient to provide complete remission of PTSD. Symptom relief provided by medication facilitates the patient's participation in individual, behavioral, or group psychotherapy.

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