Antidepressant relieves rape victims' posttraumatic stress
Antidepressant use reduced depression, anxiety, insomnia and reexperiencing
of the trauma in rape victims with chronic posttraumatic stress disorder
(PTSD) participating in the first medication study dedicated solely to that
patient group, reported Barbara O. Rothbaum and her colleagues in the Department
of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, in the October issue of the Journal
of Traumatic Stress.
After 12 weeks on the antidepressant sertraline (Zoloft), four out of the
five women who completed the open clinical study responded positively to
treatment. "Sertraline reduced PTSD and related symptoms in these rape
victims," the authors report. "The mean Clinician Administered
PTSD Scale (CAPS) scores decreased by 53 percent. ... If supported by a
larger controlled trial, the use of SSRIs like sertraline should be considered
an option in the treatment of PTSD in rape survivors."
SSRIs (selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors) represent a relatively
new class of antidepressants that includes fluoxetine (Prozac) and fluvoxomine
(Luvox) as well as Zoloft. Other studies of pharmacological agents for PTSD
have evaluated treatment primarily in war veterans. While PTSD symptoms
are similar no matter the trauma, the researchers say that treatment of
war veterans with PTSD is complicated by a high incidence of substance abuse
in that population.
"There is a striking similarity of response to different trauma including
combat, rape, accidents and disasters," the authors write. "Many
people respond to a life threatening trauma with acute symptoms of PTSD,
and a high percentage develop chronic PTSD. The lifetime prevalence of PTSD
has been estimated to be 12 percent of women in the general population."
Rothbaum has begun to recruit patients with PTSD from any cause for a controlled
clinical trial of Zoloft treatment. For information, call 727-8968.
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