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A review of atypical antipsychotic medications for posttraumatic stress disorder

Ahearn, Eileen P.a,b; Juergens, Timothya,b; Cordes, Timothyb; Becker, Tarac; Krahn, Deana,b

International Clinical Psychopharmacology: July 2011 - Volume 26 - Issue 4 - p 193–200
doi: 10.1097/YIC.0b013e3283473738

Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can be a chronic and disabling illness with a limited response to antidepressant treatment, particularly in the case of combat-inducedPTSD. The purpose of this study is to review randomized controlled and open-label trials of atypical antipsychotics for the treatment of PTSD. We conducted PUBMED and PILOTS database searches for clinical trials of atypical antipsychotic medications for PTSD in May 2010. Eighteen clinical trials (10 double-blind placebo-controlled, eight open-label) of atypical antipsychotics for PTSD were found and reviewed. Effect sizes of double-blind placebo-controlled trials were small, but were positive for risperidone and quetiapine. Intrusive and hypervigilance symptom subscales showed the most improvement. We concluded that atypical antipsychotic medications have a modest benefit for the treatment of PTSD. Larger randomized controlled trials are needed to clarify the potential utility of these medications in the treatment of PTSD and more rigorous examination of metabolic side effects is warranted.

aWilliam S. Middleton Memorial Veterans Hospital

bDepartments of Psychiatry

cBiostatistics and Medical Informatics, University of Wisconsin, Madison, Wisconsin, USA

Correspondence to Dr Eileen P. Ahearn, University of Wisconsin, VA Hospital, 2500 Overlook Terrace, Madison, Wisconsin 53705, USA Tel: +1 608 280 7084; fax: +1 608 280 7203; e-mail:

Received December 1, 2010

Accepted March 28, 2011

© 2011 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.