PTSD Study: Drug for Recurring Nightmares Shows Promise

Scientists wanted to find out the reason why people with PTSD can’t sleep and dream normally. One theory comes from Matthew Walker, a psychology researcher at the University of California, Berkeley.

National Public Radio report by Amy Standen said that  Walker began looking at rapid eye movement, or REM, which occurs when a person dreams.

Walker’s theory suggests that in people with PTSD, REM sleep is broken and the body’s adrenaline doesn’t go away like during normal dream patterns. So, the brain just cycles through the same dream, again and again.

So, the VA began trials looking at the drug, prazosin, which can take the adrenaline away. Pfizer Inc. introduced the drug under the brand name Minipress in the 1970s to treat high blood pressure. Dr. Murray Raskind, a VA psychiatrist in Seattle, said the drug, now generic, can cost anywhere between 5 and 15 cents and was less effective as a blood pressure medication.

This year, the VA is expected to finish up its trial for prazosin. It’s already prescribing the drug to about 15 percent of its PTSD patients.

You can listen to and read the NPR report HERE.

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