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date: 19 September 2018

Abstract and Keywords

Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can cause serious chronic psychological impairments in a significant number of persons who have been exposed to an extreme traumatic event. Finding effective, well-tolerated pharmacological treatments for this disorder is an ongoing research effort. This chapter reviews recent thinking that PTSD results from dysfunctions in the neural systems mediating fear learning and memory. These systems are modulated by dopamine, GABA, norepinephrine, and serotonin. Drugs that have been investigated to alleviate PTSD symptoms affect these neuromodulators and include all classes of antidepressants, mood stabilizers, and antipsychotics. To date, the SSRI antidepressants, particularly paroxetine, have shown the best evidence for alleviating most PTSD symptoms in most people. Drugs that promote extinction of fear learning are currently being investigated.

Keywords: acute stress, anticonvulsants, antidepressants, antipsychotics, mood stabilizers, neurobiology, pharmacotherapy, posttraumatic stress disorder

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