Health & Safety

June 19, 2014

Old drug, new promise for PTSD nightmares

Christine Creenan-Jones

BETHESDA, Md. — Every day, thousands of American service members relive the trauma of war in their sleep. They hear explosions, see the carnage of battle erupt around them and feel the crushing weight of a painful combat memory resurface in their dreams.

Unfortunately, frequent nightmares are common among service members with post-traumatic stress disorder. Moreover, they disrupt sleep, which can magnify the daytime symptoms of PTSD and stymie the recovery process significantly.

“Although psychotherapy is the best treatment for PTSD, it’s less impactful when a patient is tired, irritable, anxious or unable to concentrate because recurring nightmares continuously disrupt their sleep,” said Army Lt. Col. Jess Calohan, program director for the Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner Program at the Daniel K. Inouye Graduate School of Nursing, part of the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences here.

In 2005, Calohan began working with Dr. Murray Raskind, who discovered that a largely obsolete blood pressure medication called prazosin appeared to be effective for treating PTSD-related nightmares. In his own practice, Raskind, director of the Northwest Network Mental Illness Research Education and Clinical Center at Veterans Affairs, used prazosin to treat Vietnam War veterans with PTSD.

Theoretically, the drug blocks the effects of adrenaline in areas of the brain thought to be responsible for causing nightmares during sleep. Raskind found that prazosin was tremendously successful at improving sleep quality and other PTSD-related symptoms.

Still, Raskind wondered if prazosin also would work on active duty service members. Their combat experiences were different, and they weren’t as far removed from the fight as the Vietnam War-era patients in his study.

Raskind, Calohan and colleagues partnered to investigate prazosin’s crossover efficacy. In two separate studies funded by the Veterans Affairs Department, active-duty soldiers with PTSD reported experiencing better, more restful sleep while taking prazosin. Furthermore, in many cases, the combat-related nightmares that amplified other PTSD symptoms were eliminated altogether. This led to vast improvements in overall PTSD treatment for the soldiers Calohan treated at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington state and at frontline clinics in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“Before our research, prazosin was a level C on the strength of recommendation scale on the [VA and Defense Department] clinical practice guidelines, a system that measures the quality and consistency of evidence for using a medical intervention,” Calohan said. “Now, it’s a level B, but we fully expect prazosin will move up to a level A soon.”

Level A is the highest rating on the strength of recommendation scale. It’s reserved for interventions validated by high-quality, evidence-based studies. The team’s work is reaching for the top of the scale through research results and professional accolades. In fact, their study was the most-read article in last year’s September issue of the American Journal of Psychiatry. It also was lauded as the No. 1 innovation in psychiatry for 2013 by the New England Journal of Medicine.

In an effort to continue improving patient care, Calohan is using his expertise to shape the way rising military health care providers deliver care to service members with PTSD.

“Now that I’m here at USU, I’m able to review the prazosin literature and its application in clinical practice with my students,” he said. “It is definitely a good thing, because I’m educating providers about an effective method for treating sleep disturbances related to PTSD.”




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 

Diamond Sharp August 1, 2014

Name/Squadron:   Airman 1st Class Colby Evans / 43 ECS First Sergeant: Master Sgt. Jaime Lewis Duty Title: Knowledge Operations/Commander’s Support Staff When joined the AF: March 4, 2013 Hometown: Freemont, CA Hobbies: Playing various sports such as football and basketball, video gaming, hiking, drawing Selection Reasons: In Airman Evans’ short time in the Air...
 
 

Local Briefs August 1, 2014

AMMO to conduct inventory Aug. 8 The AMMO Flight will be conducting a 100% Change of MASO inventory, Aug. 8. Please direct any concerns to Munitions Operations at 228-8009. Stay and Play Wednesdays, 10-11:30 a.m. – Youth Center instruction room This is a new program for parents and children ages birth to five years. Features...
 
 

Quality of rituals determines quality of life

WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo. (AFNS) — Over the last year I’ve been on a quest to identify and highlight simple success strategies that, if followed, will increase career success. Where does one start on the path to becoming successful? Some would say, “habits,” but it goes farther than that. Habits are repeatable actions that...
 

 
DT_pict3

Colonel Blanchard bids farewell

Desert Lightning Warriors, It has been the singular honor of my 23 plus year career to serve you as your commander. Your dedication to excellence, service to the nation, and high standards of integrity never cease to amaze me, ...
 
 
(U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Gregory Ferreira)

Motivated to save lives

Airmen assigned to the 162nd Wing showcased their medical deployment skills during a decontamination exercise July 15 at the medical facility here. The decontamination, DECON, exercise lasted two days and consisted of three sce...
 
 

AF Marathon sells out, race transfer program announced

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio (AFNS) — The Air Force Marathon has officially sold out all races and organizers have announced details for the transfer program. “The transfer program is the only official way for runners to give their bib to another runner,” said Rob Aguiar, the race director. The transfer program opened on July...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>


Directory powered by Business Directory Plugin