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David Baxter

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Medication Offers Potential Relief from PTSD
Monday, November 27, 2006

In a recent series of experiments, researchers have attempted to use a traditional hyper-tension medication to relieve patients of the recurring pains of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. While this proposition is not new, it has gained increasing media coverage in recent weeks. Propranolol is a beta blocker widely used to combat the extreme fatigues of hyper-tension and anxiety. By attaching itself to receptors responsible for regulating adrenaline, it can dull the effects of stress-inducing medical conditions or dramatic outside stimuli. Because one of the brain's most prominent reactions to traumatic events is the immediate flooding of the body with adrenaline, it stands to reason that some chemical repression of this physical response would level the heart rate and brain functions of a subject and allow for a more controlled response to the given event or stimuli.

One of PTSD's most prominent symptoms is a repeated emotional return to the moment of trauma - in extreme cases, victims continue to relive the events in question for decades after their occurrence, and their daily lives often suffer as a result. If the memory of these events could become less extreme, allowing the subject to view the event from a more level-headed perspective, the symptoms of PTSD could conceivably be reduced. An exclusive 60 Minutes segment on these developments reports that the doctors involved believe that administering doses of propranolol, particularly in the period directly after a traumatic experience, could constrain the flow of adrenaline and, while not completely erasing the memory, make it easier to address and much less debilitating over time. The idea is that one could be treated before the event has the time to cement itself in the brain, but certain long-time PTSD patients have also reported varying degrees of satisfaction with the drug.

Many worry about potential abuse of the drug, which can be dangerous in high doses, and it could also be overprescribed to those who simply have unpleasant memories they'd like to "erase." PTSD can be severe, and the types of treatment used to address it are as varied as the individual experiences themselves. Some patients find success with regular therapy, support groups, or the love of family and friends. Some must confront the event head-on and accept its reality in order to overcome it.

Side effects of the drug are also a matter of concern. Some long-term propranolol patients report diminished capacity for emotion and pronounced problems with memory. The drug does not selectively treat certain traumatic recollections, and one would expect it to diminish positive memories as well. Still, many patients and government interests remain intrigued by the possibilities of propranolol treatment. One possible application involves administering the drug to traumatized veterans, and the military plans to fund further research. The issue is particularly topical as more soldiers return from Iraq and Afghanistan suffering from the same sort of conditions. This treatment will certainly never serve as an easy cure for the victims of lingering trauma, but combined with other therapies, it could lighten the emotional load and contribute to full recovery.
 
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Very interesting article propranolol i will have to bring this drug up with my doctor for sure. Anything to keep memories from coming back is worth side effects. Mary
 

David Baxter

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Mary, it doesn't "keep memories from coming back". What it does basically is reduce some of the anxiety triggered by or associated with those memories.
 
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I see so it sort of works like cipralex i am trying now. I will still see if my doctor thinks this will work in conjuction with cipralex. Thanks for explanation mary
 

Atlantean

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Thanks for this article. Ill have to bring it up with my doctor, as well.
 

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