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Blood Pressure Drug Relieves PTSD Nightmares

Blood Pressure Drug Relieves PTSD NightmaresResearchers believe a blood pressure medication may relieve nightmares associated with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Mayo Clinic investigators have completed a systematic literature review of prazosin in the treatment of nightmares. Researchers investigated 12 prazosin studies, four of which were randomized controlled trials.

“The studies showed the drug was well-tolerated and can take effect rapidly, within days to weeks, and some patients reported a return of nightmares when the course of prazosin was stopped,” said Simon Kung, M.D., principal investigator of the study.

“There’s not much available for treating nightmares in terms of medications, so prazosin is a promising option,” Kung says.

He added that the literature review opens the possibility of widening the use of prazosin.

“Because of the low side effects of prazosin as reported in these studies, it seems logical to extend the use of prazosin to non-PTSD nightmares.”

Nightmares often accompany PTSD with the dreams causing sleep loss and stress. Frequently, dreams are vivid presenting extremely frightening images of physical or emotional threats. Nightmares can be so severe that they can contribute to alcoholism, substance abuse and suicidal thinking.

Researchers believe overstimulated chemical messenger receptors in the central nervous system, in particular, norepinephrine, may cause the nightmares.

“The thinking is that pharmacologic agents, like prazosin, that block these receptors may be ideal in treating nightmares,” Kung said.

Prazosin is a hypertension medication that’s been used, following research that began a decade ago, by some Veterans Administration hospitals to treat PTSD-related nightmares.

Source: Mayo Clinic

Blood Pressure Drug Relieves PTSD Nightmares

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2015). Blood Pressure Drug Relieves PTSD Nightmares. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 19, 2018, from https://psychcentral.com/news/2012/03/07/blood-pressure-drug-relieves-ptsd-nightmares/35674.html

 

Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 6 Oct 2015
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 6 Oct 2015
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.