This week, the NY Times reported on Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in veterans. Veterans and military personnel who take psychiatric medications such as antidepressants and antipsychotics are no more likely to improve than those taking a placebo. Therefore, why would anyone wish to take a drug which comes with so many risks and side effects, including both emotional and psychical? No one knows the long term effects of these medications. It is, however, well known that psychiatric drugs are associated with a host of side effects including death, whether taken for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in veterans or for other conditions taken by non-military personnel.

Of those military personnel who see heavy combat, 10-20% of those individuals are affected by Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). However, The Journal of American Medical Association reports that these drugs are often taken by those with additional conditions such as depression, substance misuse, etc. Obviously, heavy combat is something which may cause the scales to tip. Most individuals can handle life’s troubles until one overwhelming event occurs that just sends one into a tailspin. How can taking a drug that makes you less aware, and often ill, be a good thing for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in veterans or military personnel, or anyone for that matter? Can you imagine our men in service being drugged while fighting a war? They do, however, have psychotherapy and psychiatric drugs made available to them.

There are a high percentage of drop outs when personnel turn to medication or psychotherapy for treatment. There are a couple of reasons this may occur. One can either choose not to confront the issue because it is too overwhelming at the moment; or that the therapies do not work. There are tools out there where one can learn to confront an issue a little at a time, but to ignore the issue and just be given a drug to help you forget, often leaving you in a zombie-like state, is not the answer. The problem still remains. It would be like putting a bandaide on a broken bone. Some say time heals all. Does it in this case, though?

Dr. Hoge, a senior scientist at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, found that after one year of deployment it takes about 2 years for one’s mind to reset itself. Perhaps starting down the psychiatric prescription road is not the best answer. You will find many become addicted to these medications or worse, end up taking several other medications to combat the side effects, which leads to multiple psychical health problems and further mental health issues. Antipsychotics are often the worst offenders.

A study on one antipsychotic, Risperdal, found that when given to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder veterans, they were no better off than those who were given a placebo. There were approximately 125 veterans in each group and the study lasted 6 months. The individuals in the study were recruited from 26 different veteran sites, to ensure a diversity of individuals were included. They believe these results would also be applied to other antipsychotics such as Seroquel, Abilify and Geoon.

Antipsychotics block a chemical, dopamine, which is vital to our nervous system. And one study showed that in forty-two trials of the six most commonly used antidepressants, a placebo was eighty-two percent as effective as psychiatric drugs. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in veterans may just need a little time before it goes away, or provide enough time for the person to come to a better understanding of why it occurred in the first place. Often times when we realize why something occurred it resolves on its own. Some are strong enough to realize war is just a big mistake and they are just glad it is all over, and move on. Let’s face it, the end of war would be the best answer.

ADDITIONAL REFERENCES:

http://jama.ama-assn.org/content/306/5/493.full

http://jama.ama-assn.org/content/306/5/493.full

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