Posttraumatic stress (PTSD), which results from a traumatic life experience, can upend a person’s life, resulting in intrusive memories, nightmares, anxiety, depression, fear, avoidance, and a heightened startle reflex. While some medications can treat symptoms in some people, results are unpredictable, and side effects cause many people with posttraumatic stress to forgo drugs altogether. According to a small study of 12 patients, though, hope for PTSD could come in the form of a common anesthetic.
Anesthetic Might Treat PTSD
Researchers followed 12 people with PTSD after administering a stellate ganglion block (SGB). The procedure injects local anesthesia into the neck, and is a common treatment for chronic pain and some other conditions. Researchers followed the patients for six months after the treatment, relying on psychological tests, such as structured interviews.
The effects of the SGB on PTSD symptoms were immediate. Seventy-five percent of participants reported significant improvement in symptoms of PTSD. Most patients who undergo SGB for pain experience improvements for only a few hours, but the effects were longer lasting among people with PTSD. Participants continued to experience improvements in their PTSD symptoms three months after the initial injection. By the six-month mark, though, the effects of SGB had leveled off and improvements diminished.
The study’s authors believe that SGB could also help alleviate the symptoms of depression and anxiety, since patients with PTSD saw improvements in these symptoms. They emphasize that further research could help uncover how and why SGB works to treat PTSD, in addition to providing information on which patients are good candidates for the procedure.
This isn’t the first time researchers have discovered evidence that anesthetic treatments can help people with posttraumatic stress. An earlier study found that IV administration of Ketamine, another common anesthetic, could also improve symptoms of PTSD.
- Common anesthetic procedure dramatically improves well being of veterans with PTSD. (2014, October 11). Retrieved from http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/10/141011172042.htm
- IV Ketamine Rapidly Effective in PTSD. (2014, April 14). Retrieved from http://www.medpagetoday.com/Psychiatry/AnxietyStress/45314
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