Treatment of posttraumatic stress disorder: the impact of paroxetine.
The past decade has seen remarkable advances in our ability to treat patients with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). In addition, we are now much more aware of the prevalence of PTSD in civilian populations, and treatment studies now reflect the broad spectrum of patients with PTSD. Findings of studies conducted with the tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs), monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs), mood stabilizers, and benzodiazepines suggest varying degrees of efficacy, with the MAOIs being particularly efficacious. However, the adverse-effect profiles of these agents, especially the TCAs and the MAOIs, limit their widespread use. The efficacy and tolerability of the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), paroxetine, sertraline, and fluoxetine, also have been demonstrated in clinical trials. Paroxetine is especially well studied in this regard, with demonstrated efficacy in men and women, in both short-term and long-term studies, and in combat veterans and civilians. Paroxetine also has been shown to improve quality of life, and to improve sleep disturbances, which can be remarkably disabling, in patients with PTSD. Emerging evidence also suggests that long-term treatment with paroxetine reverses the reductions in hippocampal volume and hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis abnormalities associated with PTSD.
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