15 Best Medications for PTSD

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Humans have natural coping mechanisms to deal with life’s stress and trauma. However, we are not built to endure all the trauma life may bring.

One’s way of coping with trauma and stressful events must be healthy, or their physical, mental, and emotional well-being can suffer.

Those who experience PTSD often need medication to help heal.

What to expect when prescribed PTSD medication

You must meet with your therapist and psychiatrist regularly to monitor your progress and discuss how you are taking your medications, any resolving or worsening symptoms, and any side effects you are experiencing.

It is important to be honest with your treatment providers to get the best treatment outcome.

Taking psychotropic medications to treat PTSD will not cure the condition, but it can turn down the volume of symptoms to allow you to live your life.

Your therapy may help you emotionally heal faster if you are also taking medication that improves physical symptoms. While medications can make symptoms less bothersome, however, you must pursue therapy to address the root of the issue.

Types of medication

Medical professionals typically first prescribe a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) or serotonin norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor (SNRI) to treat PTSD.

Both types of medication decrease anxiety and depression. They also decrease nightmares, improve sleep patterns, and reduce the occurrence of panic attacks. SSRI and SNRI medications do not create new chemicals in the brain but rather balance the brain’s existing chemicals and hormones.

For those who do not respond to SSRI or SNRI medications, treatment providers will prescribe a mood stabilizer. This medication is most helpful when primary symptoms include anger, agitation, and irritability.

Also useful in PTSD treatment are fast-acting anti-anxiety medications. These provide short-term symptom relief by calming the central nervous system. Side effects of such medications include fatigue and dizziness, and they carry a higher risk of addiction.

Alpha blockers are also used to treat PTSD symptoms. These medications are typically used to lower blood pressure but have also been demonstrated to reduce PTSD symptoms.

What treatments are available for PTSD?

Treatment for PTSD includes a combination of therapy and medication. Working with a competent therapist who specializes in working with people suffering from PTSD is ideal. Treating PTSD symptoms requires identifying the root cause to appropriately address the trauma.

Since PTSD causes physical and emotional symptoms that drastically impact your ability to carry on a normal life, medication may be necessary. It is therefore important to work with a provider well-versed in both therapy and medication.

At Modern Recovery Services, we understand the importance of using both approaches to address PTSD symptoms, heal, and achieve wholeness.

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Medications use to treat PTSD

SSRIs and SNRIs (Antidepressants)

  • Paroxetine (Paxil)
  • Fluoxetine (Prozac)
  • Venlafaxine (Effexor)
  • Nefazodone (Serzone)


  • Imipramine (Tofranil) – A tricyclic antidepressant
  • Phenelzine (Nardil) – An MAOI medication
  • Topomax (Topiramate) – A mood stabilizer
  • Lamictal (Lamotrigine) – A mood stabilizer
  • Xanax – A fast-acting anti-anxiety medication
  • Klonopin (Clonazepam) – A fast-acting anti-anxiety medication
  • Valium (Diazepam) – A fasting-acting anti-anxiety medication
  • Ativan (Lorazepam) – A fast-acting anti-anxiety medication; also used to treat sleep disorder
  • Minipress (Prazosis) – An Alpha Blocker
  • Doxazosin – An Alpha Blocker

Types of therapy used to treat PTSD

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) – This is a therapy approach that focuses on the relationships among thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, identifying patterns that cause difficulties.

Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT) – This is a variation of CBT that focuses on teaching how to challenge and modify unhelpful beliefs about experienced trauma.

Cognitive Therapy (CT) – Also derived from CBT,  this approach aims to modify negative memories of a trauma to stop behaviors that disrupt your life.

Prolonged Exposure – This is a type of CBT therapy that teaches you to gradually approach trauma-related memories, feelings, and situations. By facing what has been avoided, you learn that trauma-related memories and cues are not dangerous and need not be avoided.

What is PTSD?

Post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental health condition triggered by experiencing or witnessing a traumatic event or series of events. While some can appropriately cope with such trauma immediately, others cannot.

PTSD most likely results from a stressful or traumatic event combined with several other factors, such as a history of mental health issues, a specific personality or temperament, and the brain’s physical regulation of chemicals and hormones.

Those diagnosed with PTSD may have different amounts of neurotransmitters in their brains than those without PTSD.  PTSD may alter the brain’s physical makeup.

Types of trauma that cause PTSD

Those who are involved in or witness an event that involves death, injury, or the threat of either are at increased risk of developing PTSD.

Several types of trauma are associated with PTSD:

  • Combat Exposure – Combat trauma experienced or witnessed by active military members or veterans
  • Childhood Abuse – Sexual, emotional, or physical abuse experienced as a child
  • Sexual Abuse or Sexual Violence – Sexual abuse or assault
  • Physical Assault – A physical assault experienced or witessed

You have elevated risk of developing PTSD if

  • You have experienced intense or long-lasting trauma.
  • You are exposed to trauma at a young age.
  • You have pre-existing mental health disorders or are predisposed due to heredity.
  • You work in a profession that regularly experiences trauma, such as first responders, police officers, medical professionals, or ambulance drivers/EMTs.
  • You lack a support system.

What are the symptoms of PTSD?

There are four types of PTSD symptoms:

Intrusive memories

PTSD can prompt sudden, intrusive memories of the traumatic event without warning, prompting physical or emotional responses. It is also common to suffer dreams or nightmares related to the traumatic event.


Suffering from PTSD can encourage avoidance of people, places, or things that may prompt memories of the traumatic event. You may stop engaging in activities that you once enjoyed to avoid triggering symptoms.

Negative changes in thinking and mood

PTSD can cause you to have negative thoughts about yourself, affecting your self-image. PTSD can also cause negative thoughts about others, including family and other loved ones, thus causing relationship issues as you feel detached from those you love. This impacts both you and your family and friends.

PTSD can cause feelings of hopelessness about the present and future. If you have thoughts of harming yourself, call 988 immediately to reach the National Suicide and Crisis Lifeline. If you are a veteran, select option 1. Calls are answered 24/7.

PTSD can cause memory loss. It can be very frustrating and scary to no longer recall simple facts or memories. PTSD can also cause you to feel numb or unable to respond to emotionally charged situations, leaving you struggling to respond appropriately to any form of stress.

Changes in physical and emotional reactions

When suffering from PTSD, one can become startled or frightened easily. You may feel like you are always on edge or on guard waiting for something bad to happen. This can shift your emotions out of alignment.

You may experience significant difficulty sleeping or even insomnia. Nightmares may also disrupt a regular sleep schedule. When you lack a normal sleep pattern, your body is unable to recuperate, which can cause  disruptions to various bodily systems.

PTSD can likewise cause dysregulation of emotions. You may experience significant irritability, anger, or sadness when you should feel happy. It can be frustrating to experience such illogical emotional responses.

When to seek help for PTSD

When you have experienced a traumatic event, it is natural to experience emotional turmoil and even some physical symptoms. However, these should not last long.

If you are still experiencing emotional or physical symptoms a month after a traumatic event, it is time to seek professional help. Do not delay, as it is important to recognize and develop a plan to address PTSD.

The quicker you recognize your PTSD, the better your outcome will be. If you  identify and begin addressing the root of the issue soon after developing PTSD, your recovery is likely to be faster and easier.

At Modern Recovery Services, we are dedicated to working with you to identify the root cause of your PTSD and develop a treatment plan to help you think differently.

We realize that your life can be hectic, so our services will meet you where you are, providing convenient options. We offer access to therapists and case managers at any time of the day or night through phone, text, or live chats in our app. We want to partner with you as you work through the healing process.

If you delay seeking help for PTSD and its related symptoms, you may resort to harmful ways of coping with the discomfort and torment you feel. You may find yourself engaging in high-risk behavior or similarly dangerous ways of escaping.

Many people turn to drugs or alcohol to cope with PTSD. We can help if you need treatment for both PTSD and substance abuse. Contact us today to develop a comprehensive treatment plan.

We Can Help

Contact us today to schedule a time to meet with one of our professional counselors and case managers to assess your treatment needs today. We are ready to help you create a treatment plan to best meet all of your needs.


US Department of Veteran Affairs. Medications for PTSD. 2022. Available at ptsd.va.gov.

National Library of Medicine. Mood Stabilizers. April, 28. 2020. Available at ncbi.nlm.nih.gov.

The Mayo Clinic. Alpha Blockers. 2022. Available at mayoclinic.org.

The Mayo Clinic. Post-traumatic stress disorder. 2022. Available at mayoclinic.org.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. Available at 988lifeline.org.

US Department of Veteran Affairs.Veteran Suicide Prevention. October 12, 2022. Available at va.gov.

American Psychological Association. PTSD Treatments. June 2020. Available at apa.org.