Blood-pressure drug might curb PTSD-related nightmares

April 5, 2012

The blood-pressure medication prazosin was found to be an effective treatment to curb nightmares related to post traumatic stress disorder, according to a poster presentation, at the 20th European Congress of Psychiatry in Prague

The blood-pressure medication prazosin was found to be an effective treatment to curb nightmares related to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), according to a poster presentation at the 20th European Congress of Psychiatry in Prague.

Mayo Clinic psychiatrists presented their systematic literature review of prazosin in the treatment of nightmares. Led by Mayo Clinic psychiatrist Simon Kung, MD, the researchers investigated 12 prazosin studies, 4 of which were randomized controlled trials. The studies involved 276 patients and 9 case reports involving 5 adults and 4 children. In the case reports, nightmares improved in all but 2 patients.

“There is not much available for treating nightmares in terms of medications, so prazosin is a promising option. The studies showed the drug was well-tolerated and can take effect rapidly-within days to weeks-and some patients reported a return of nightmares when the course of prazosin was stopped,” Kung said in a press statement.

Prazosin has been used, following research that began a decade ago, by some Veterans Administration hospitals to treat PTSD-related nightmares. This new literature review opens the possibility of widening the use of prazosin beyond PTSD, according to Kung.

“Because of the low side effects of prazosin as reported in these studies, it seems logical to extend the use of prazosin to non-PTSD nightmares,” he said.