Psychopharmacological Prevention of PTSD

Part of effective treatment of PTSD involves prevention of full-blown PTSD from developing by intervening as immediately posttrauma as one can with debriefing, crisis intervention, and psychological first aid. This is particularly true in cases of Acute Stress Disorder. Interventions that can reduce immediate and acute posttrauma levels of arousal, such as relaxation training and utilizing social supports, are often effective. Can pharmacological treatment play a role in prevention or early intervention? Stahl (2005) suggests that medications can be given to disrupt the psychobiological processes that lead to PTSD, ideally preventing the disorder but conservatively attenuating its severity. Two studies suggest that administration of propranolol may be effective as its effects on suppressing epinephrine may interfere with the formation of strong traumatic memories. Still other research is suggesting that early use of benzodiazepines and SSRIs, too, may be helpful. More research needs to be conducted, however.

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