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Adverse drug effects

Benzodiazepines should not be given to patients with post-traumatic stress disorder

A systematic review and meta-analysis has concluded that benzodiazepines are ineffective in post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and that the risks “tend to outweigh” potential short-term benefits. Servicemen (pictured) usually suffer from PTSD

Source: Zorandim / Dreamstime.com

Patients with post-traumatic stress disorder are often prescribed benzodiazepines

Patients with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are often prescribed benzodiazepines, despite a paucity of evidence to support the practice. Now, a systematic review and meta-analysis of six clinical trials and six cohort studies (n=5,236) has concluded that benzodiazepines are ineffective in PTSD and that the risks “tend to outweigh” potential short-term benefits.

Writing in the Journal of Psychiatric Practice (online, 14 July 2015)[1], the researchers say that in addition to their adverse effects in general populations, benzodiazepines are associated with “specific problems” in PTSD patients, such as worse overall severity, significantly increased risk of developing PTSD with use after recent trauma, worse psychotherapy outcomes, aggression, depression and substance use.

Benzodiazepines “should be considered relatively contraindicated” for patients with PTSD or recent trauma, they conclude.

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2015.20069017

Readers' comments (1)

  • It should be noted that use of benzodiazepines for more than
    two weeks is against prescribing guidelines in any case.
    The problems cited in this article can be caused by tolerance
    withdrawal, or by reduction of dose, or by post-withdrawal syndrome.
    The effects of post-withdrawal syndrome can include chronic
    disability (and too often leads to suicide).

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

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  • A systematic review and meta-analysis has concluded that benzodiazepines are ineffective in post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and that the risks “tend to outweigh” potential short-term benefits. Servicemen (pictured) can suffer from PTSD

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