JOURNAL ARTICLE
RANDOMIZED CONTROLLED TRIAL

Does comorbid anxiety or depression affect clinical outcomes in patients with post-traumatic stress disorder and alcohol use disorders?

Lawrence A Labbate, Susan C Sonne, Carrie L Randal, Raymond F Anton, Kathleen T Brady
Comprehensive Psychiatry 2004, 45 (4): 304-10
15224273
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is commonly comorbid with other psychiatric disorders, including substance use disorders. In spite of this, pharmacologic treatment trials for PTSD often exclude individuals with significant psychiatric comorbidity. This study is a post hoc analysis of a 12-week double-blind placebo-controlled trial investigating sertraline in the treatment of patients with comorbid PTSD and an alcohol use disorder. Individuals with additional anxiety and affective disorders were included. Patients (N = 93) were stratified into four groups depending on presence or absence of additional anxiety or depressive disorders and evaluated for the effects of comorbidity on PTSD symptoms, depressive symptoms, and drinking behaviors. We hypothesized that additional comorbidity would be associated with poorer outcomes. Patients in all four subgroups showed marked and clinically significant improvement in alcohol drinking behaviors over the course of the study. For the entire sample, over the course of the 12 weeks, mean drinks per drinking day fell from 13.0 +/- 8.4 (SD) to 3.0 +/- 5.0 (SD); t = 10.2, df = 92, P <.000. There were, however, no significant differences among groups. Patients in all four groups showed moderate improvement in Hamilton Depression Rating Scale (HAMD) scores and Clinician-Administered PTSD scale (CAPS) scores at endpoint. For the entire sample, mean CAPS scores fell from 59.3 +/- 19.4 (SD) to 40.8 +/- 26.0, t = 8.9, df = 92, P <.000. Mean HAMD scores fell from 17. 9 +/- 6.7 (SD) at baseline to 11.8 +/- 9.4 (SD) at endpoint; t = 6.7, df = 92, P <.000. There were, however, no significant differences among groups for change in HAM-D or CAPS scores. Hence, contrary to our hypothesis, having additional anxiety or mood disorder comorbidity did not decrease treatment response in individuals with comorbid PTSD and an alcohol use disorder.

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