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Medicines for PTSD

Medicines have been shown to be helpful in treating PTSD symptoms. They are some of the same medicines also used for symptoms of depression and anxiety. They are called SSRIs and SNRIs. There are other types of antidepressant medicines, but these types are more effective for PTSD. Only a few specific antidepressant medicines are used to treat PTSD symptoms.

How do they work?

PTSD may be related to changes in the brain that are linked to our ability to manage stress. People with PTSD appear to have different amounts of certain chemicals (called neurotransmitters) in the brain than people without PTSD. The recommended SSRIs and SNRIs are believed to treat PTSD symptoms by putting these brain chemicals back in balance.

What can I expect?

To receive medicines for PTSD, you'll need to meet with a healthcare provider who can prescribe these medicines to you. Many different types of healthcare providers, including your family doctor and even some nurses and physician assistants, can prescribe antidepressant medicines for PTSD. You and your healthcare provider can work together to decide which antidepressant medicine may be best for you.

Once you fill your prescription, you will begin taking a pill at regular time(s) each day. It may take a few weeks before you notice the effects of the medicine. It is important to continue to take it even if you do not notice changes right away. You will meet with your healthcare provider every few months or so. Your healthcare provider will monitor your response to the medicine (including side effects) and change your dose, if needed.

Are they effective?

Yes, certain SSRIs and SNRIs medicines are some of the most effective treatment for PTSD. Not all SSRIs and SNRIs are effective for PTSD.

What are the risks?

The risks of taking SSRIs and SNRIs are mild to moderate side effects. They include:

  • Upset stomach

  • Sweating

  • Headache

  • Dizziness

  • Sexual side effects, such as decreased desire to have sex or difficulty having an orgasm

Some side effects are short-term, though others may last as long as you are taking the medicine.


You will attend regular one-on-one visits with the healthcare provider who prescribes you the medicine.

Will I talk in detail about my trauma?

No, you will not need to talk about the details of your trauma. However, your healthcare provider may ask for some basic information about your trauma - like the type of trauma and when it happened - when you first meet.

Will I have homework?

No, you will just need to take your medicine as prescribed.

How long does treatment last?

You may start to feel better in about 4-6 weeks. You will need to keep taking the medicine to keep getting the benefits.

How available is this in VA?

Very available. All VA Medical Centers are staffed with healthcare providers who can prescribe antidepressant medicines for PTSD.

Does VA have an app for that?

No, VA has not developed an app for antidepressant medicines for PTSD.

How do I choose the best treatment for myself?

Trying to figure out which PTSD treatment is best for you? For more videos about the SSRIs and SNRIs used for PTSD and other treatments that work, get started with the PTSD Treatment Decision Aid.


Author: StayWell Custom Communications
Last Annual Review Date: 2/1/2018
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