Blood pressure drug to treat PTSD ?


Drug therapies for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are still limited, but a 50-year-old blood pressure medication may be an interesting option…

PTSD is a severe anxiety disorder that profoundly affects all aspects of an individual's life. It is characterized by intrusive thoughts about the triggering event, avoidance behavior that reminds them of this event, deleterious effects on mood, and hypervigilance. This disorder affects 9% of the general population at some point. It lasts for more than one month and can begin up to six months after the traumatic event. In addition to psychotherapy, two drug treatments approved by the Food and Drug Administration exist, but only 20 to 30% of patients achieve total remission with these molecules.

Drug treatments targeting the adrenergic system, involved in the « fight or flight » response, have been studied in the past in the context of PTSD, including clonidine, an antihypertensive treatment. The results were not conclusive at the time and this avenue was abandoned. More recently, a study in mice has reintroduced the idea that clonidine could be a treatment for PTSD, by preventing the consolidation of fear memory through modulation of hippocampal dendritic spine morphology.

The search for PTSD treatments is crucial because the proportion of people affected is quite high in certain populations, such as war veterans, but can be as high as 30% in patients with severe COVID-19 infection and in caregivers who were on the front line during the pandemic.