What Are the Most Commonly Used Medications for Treating PTSD?

Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a debilitating mental health disorder that follows a traumatic experience. It is characterized by flashbacks, nightmares, difficulty concentrating, disturbed sleep, avoidance of reminders of the traumatic event, hyperarousal and intrusive thoughts. While therapy is always the first step in treating PTSD, medications may also be prescribed to help manage the disorder. There are several medications that are commonly used for this purpose which we will discuss in this article.


Antidepressants are the most commonly prescribed medications for treating PTSD. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved three of them for this specific condition, though other antidepressant medications may also be prescribed. The three FDA-approved drugs for the treatment of PTSD are:

  1. Sertraline (Zoloft)

  2. Paroxetine (Paxil)

  3. Fluoxetine (Prozac)

These medications work by correcting the levels of specific chemicals in the brain that regulate mood, behavior, and thoughts. While they are effective in reducing the symptoms of PTSD, they can have some side effects. Common side effects include drowsiness, dizziness, dry mouth, nausea, and decreased appetite.

Antianxiety Medications

Antianxiety medications, also known as Benzodiazepines, are sometimes prescribed to help reduce the symptoms of PTSD. They work by amplifying the effects of certain neurotransmitters in the brain, such as gamma amino butyric acid (GABA). Commonly used antianxiety medications include:

  1. Alprazolam (Xanax)

  2. Diazepam (Valium)

  3. Lorazepam (Ativan)

  4. Clonazepam (Klonopin)

However, these medications can also be habit-forming and may increase the risk of developing depression. They are usually prescribed for a short-term and in low doses to minimize any potential side effects.

Other Medications

Other medications that may be used to treat PTSD include:

  1. Prazosin (Minipress): This medication is usually prescribed to treat hypertension, but it is also effective in reducing symptoms of PTSD such as nightmares.

  2. Beta blockers: These medications can help reduce some physical symptoms of PTSD such as a rapid heartbeat and trembling.

  3. Topiramate (Topamax): In addition to its anti-seizure properties, Topiramate may be prescribed to help reduce the intensity of PTSD flashbacks and intrusive thoughts.

  4. Naltrexone (Depade): This medication can help reduce cravings associated with PTSD, such as cravings for alcohol or drugs.

There are several medications that can be used to help manage the symptoms of PTSD. Antidepressants are the most commonly used medications for this purpose and the FDA has approved three specific drugs for the treatment of PTSD. Antianxiety medications, though effective in reducing symptoms, should be used with caution as they can be habit-forming. Other medications such as Prazosin, beta blockers, Topiramate, and Naltrexone may also be prescribed to reduce specific symptoms associated with PTSD. As with any medication, it is important to discuss side effects and potential risks with your doctor before initiating treatment.