Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a severe and disabling psychiatric syndrome characterized by intense reaction (fear, horror and helplessness) to an extreme traumatic and stressful event like war, sexual assault, natural disasters, crimes, etc. People living with this condition tend to encounter tribulations like nightmares, flashbacks, etc. on a regular basis. As per reports, around 8 percent of Americans, representing approximately 24.4 million people, suffer from PTSD at any given time.
Though PTSD is known to be common among veterans, it is highly prevalent in women as well. Although verbal therapies (also known as talk therapies) are quite efficient and well accepted, many veterans are prescribed medications along with these therapies.
The first-line treatment for PTSD usually involves psychotherapy, such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), stress inoculation training, and pharmacotherapy comprising antidepressants. However, a group of medications, called atypical antipsychotics (AAs), has gathered attention over the past several years due to its capability to treat PTSD patients, especially those who are unresponsive to the standard treatments like serotonin selective reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). Therefore, scientists have highlighted that AAs can be used as an augmentation therapy or monotherapy for the treatment of PTSD.
AAs can affect several neurotransmitter systems involved with the psychophysiology of PTSD and are often utilized for the treatment of PTSD despite the limited amount of well-designed clinical trials supporting their use. However, most of the AAs cause several psychotic symptoms.
Risperidone improves outcomes without inflicting side effects
According to a study, it was found that around 41.8 percent of the patients diagnosed with PTSD were prescribed off-label AA prescriptions within the Veterans Administration (VA). Compared to other psychiatric disorders like schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, etc., a majority AAs are prescribed for PTSD. Among the antipsychotics, risperidone is the most studied AA for the treatment of PTSD.
In a more recent study, published in the journal Nature, researchers have resolved the first high-resolution crystal structure of the dopamine 2 receptor (DRD2) bound to the antipsychotic drug risperidone, subsequently resulting in a long-awaited tool for drug developers, psychiatrists and neuroscientists.
Another important meta-analysis along the same lines suggested that risperidone improves PTSD symptoms without inflicting additional side effects. It further highlights that the medication reduces anxiety more effectively than other drugs. The findings, presented at the European Psychiatric Association (EPA) 2018 Congress, will enhance the current treatment approaches for PTSD. The latest findings corroborate the earlier studies that have thrown light on the benefits of risperidone for PTSD treatment.
Findings instill new hope for PTSD treatment
Since PTSD is associated with changes in brain function and structure, an awareness about them can play a vital role in providing clues related to the origin, treatment and prevention of this disorder. It is necessary to treat intrusive thoughts, reminders negative thoughts and emotions, and reactive symptoms associated with PTSD. The outcomes of the above studies will allow scientists to leverage the benefits of AAs like risperidone. As a majority of PTSD patients fail to respond to antidepressants and other standard medications, the above positive outcomes related to risperidone will prove a blessing for most of them.
If you or your loved one is suffering from PTSD or other anxiety disorders, contact the Anxiety Disorder Helpline to get help in finding the best anxiety disorder treatment centers in the U.S. Call at our 24/7 helpline number 866-971-7951 or chat online to know about the various anxiety disorder treatment clinics located in your vicinity.