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Could Benzodiazepines Make PTSD Worse?

Anti-anxiety drugs do not appear to be helpful for PTSD, even though they are frequently prescribed for other sorts of anxiety disorders.

Psychiatrists often prescribe anti-anxiety drugs such as alprazolam or lorazepam for people suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD. This can be brought on by terrible accidents, physical injuries, disasters, sexual assault or the horrors of war.

Although such benzodiazepine medications can ease anxiety symptoms and insomnia in other situations, a recent review of 12 studies showed no benefit from treating PTSD with these drugs.

Might Benzodiazepines Increase the Likelihood of PTSD?

There was actually a hint that recent trauma victims treated with a benzodiazepine might be at higher risk of developing PTSD than those who received no medication. It is not clear that these drugs actually worsen symptoms of PTSD and make recovery more difficult, but it is possible that such medications interfere with coping mechanisms that are important for recovery from traumatic events.

Journal of Psychiatric Practice, July, 2015 

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About the Author
Joe Graedon is a pharmacologist who has dedicated his career to making drug information understandable to consumers. His best-selling book, The People’s Pharmacy, was published in 1976 and led to a syndicated newspaper column, syndicated public radio show and web site. In 2006, Long Island University awarded him an honorary doctorate as “one of the country's leading drug experts for the consumer.”.
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