Psychopharmacological treatment for military posttraumatic stress disorder: an integrative review

Jennifer Tawa, Susan Murphy
Journal of the American Association of Nurse Practitioners 2013, 25 (8): 419-23

PURPOSE: Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a serious mental health disorder. The current first-line psychopharmacologic treatment for PTSD is selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). Recently, the efficacy of SSRIs has been challenged in favor of propranolol use. This article reviews the origins of PTSD, its impact within the veteran population, psychopharmacological treatment of PTSD, and current literature on the use of propranolol for PTSD treatment.

DATA SOURCES: The search strategies used included ProQuest, Medline, CINAHL, and Psychiatry Online and were searched using the key terms: PTSD, psychopharmacological treatment, SSRIs, propranolol, military, and veterans in multiple combinations.

CONCLUSIONS: Studies to date indicate that (a) SSRIs are only moderately effective as a first-line treatment for PTSD and less so for military personnel, (b) propranolol has the ability to attenuate traumatic memory in primary and tertiary use, and (c) ethical and moral consideration as well as further research and testing is needed for substantiating propranolol as a first-line PTSD psychopharmacological treatment.

IMPLICATIONS FOR PRACTICE: Current research has shown propranolol to be an effective treatment option for PTSD.

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