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BP and Prostate Problems Drug Effective in Treating PTSD Nightmares

A generic drug already used for high blood pressure and prostate problems has been found to improve// sleep and lessen nightmares in veterans with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

"This is the first drug that has been demonstrated effective for PTSD nightmares and sleep disruption," said Murray A. Raskind, MD, executive director of the mental health service at the Veterans Affairs Puget Sound Health Care System and lead author of a study appearing April 15 in Biological Psychiatry.

The randomized trial of 40 veterans compared a nightly dose of prazosin (PRAISE-oh-sin) with placebo over eight weeks. Participants continued to take other prescribed medications over the course of the trial.

At the end of the study, veterans randomized to prazosin reported significantly improved sleep quality, reduced trauma nightmares, a better overall sense of well being, and an improved ability to function.

"These nighttime symptoms are heavily troublesome to veterans," said Raskind, who also is director of VA’s VISN 20 (Veterans Integrated Service Network #20) Mental Illness Research, Education and Clinical Centers program (MIRECC). "If you get the nighttime symptoms under control, veterans feel better all around."

Raskind, also a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the University of Washington, estimates that of the 10 million U.S. veterans and civilians with PTSD, about half have trauma-related nightmares that could be helped with the drug.

Participants were given 1 mg of prazosin per day for the first three days. The dose was gradually increased over the first four weeks to a maximum of 15 mg at bedtime. The average dose of prazosin in the trial was 13.3 mg. By comparison, typical prazosin doses for controlling blood pressure or treating prostate problems range from 3 mg to 30 mg per day in divided doses.

The drug did not affect blood pressure compared to placebo, th
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