Veterans with post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) who have been prescribed basic antipsychotic medication risperidone may be receiving only negligible help according to a recent study.
The drug was studied by researchers and they found that not only was PTSD not properly addressed by the drug, in many cases significant side effects were realized including weight gain and sleepiness.
Researchers admit that antidepressants and talk therapy are often effective, however when risperidone was given by itself the effects did not typically benefit soldiers.
According to military statistics nearly 87,000 soldiers were prescribed antipychotics in 2009, even though the FDA has not approved the drugs being prescribed for PTSD.
Reuters spoke with Dr. John H. Krystal of the Veterans Affairs (VA) Connecticut Healthcare system who said:
“The average patient was on almost three psychotropic medications,” while adding, “It is a huge problem for patients that we don’t have validated treatment to address this effectiveness gap.”
The study randomly assigned 267 veterans from Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan who were already on antidepressants, using a placebo and others with risperidone. After six months PTSD symptoms retreated in both groups, but with no major differences between them, while Risperidone didn’t appear to alleviate depression or anxiety, however 15 percent of vets gained weight on risperidone compared to two percent using the placebo.
Risperidone patients also experienced sleepiness and increased amounts of saliva.
The full study can be found in the Journal of the American Medical Association.