A medication commonly used to treat high blood pressure has been found to be effective in curb nightmares suffered by people with post-traumatic stress disorder.
The finding, to be reported by Mayo Clinic researchers at a meeting of the European Congress of Psychiatry in Prague, is based on a review of 12 studies of the blood-pressure drug prazosin.
"The studies showed the drug was well-tolerated and can take effect rapidly, within days to weeks, and some patients reported a return of nightmares when the course of prazosin was stopped," said Dr. Simon Kung, a Mayo Clinic psychiatrist and the study’s principal investigator. "There's not much available for treating nightmares in terms of medications, so prazosin is a promising option."
People with PTSD typically experience nightmares that disrupt sleep with extremely frightening images of physical or emotional threats. Nightmares can contribute to alcoholism, substance abuse and suicidal thinking, researchers said.
Drugs like prazosin may block the biochemical activity in the brain scientists have linked to nightmares.
Prazosin is a hypertension medication that's been used, following research that began a decade ago, by some Veterans Administration hospitals to treat PTSD-related nightmares.