Psychopharmacological treatment in PTSD: A critical review

Ronald C. Albucher, Israel Liberzon

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

96 Scopus citations


Introduction: Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a prevalent psychiatric disorder that is heterogeneous in its nature, and often presents with other psychiatric comorbidities. As a result, empirical research on effective pharmacotherapy for PTSD has produced complex findings. This article reviews the existing research literature on pharmacological treatments for PTSD, identifies the most effective treatments, and where possible examines their mechanism of action with respect to the neurobiology of PTSD. Methods: We examined reports of clinical trials of psychotropic agents carried out with PTSD patients and published in peer-reviewed journals, as well as reports from presentations at scientific meetings between 1966 and 2001. Results: Numerous medications are effective in treating PTSD. These include tricyclic antidepressants, monoamine oxidase inhibitors, and serotonin reuptake inhibitors. Considering reported overall efficacy and side effects profiles, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors emerge as the preferred first line treatment for PTSD. Mood stabilizers, atypical neuroleptics, adrenergic agents, and newer antidepressants also show promise, but require further controlled trials to clarify their place in the pharmacopoeia for PTSD. Discussion: There is clear evidence for effective pharmacotherapy of PTSD. Future improvements in the treatment of this disorder await further clinical trials and neurobiological research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)355-367
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Psychiatric Research
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2002


  • Pharmacotherapy
  • Posttraumatic stress disorder
  • Review

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry


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