Rape Victims Find Relief From Posttraumatic Stress Using The Antidepressant Zoloft.

November 09, 1996

Rape Victims Find Relief From Posttraumatic Stress Using the Antidepressant Zoloft

Contacts: Sarah Goodwin

Kathi Ovnic


Rape Victims Find Relief From Posttraumatic Stress Using The Antidepressant Zoloft

Antidepressant use reduced depression, anxiety, insomnia and reexperiencing of the trauma in rape victims with chronic posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) participating in the first medication study dedicated solely to that patient group, report Barbara O. Rothbaum, Ph.D., and her colleagues in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Emory University School of Medicine, in the October issue of the Journal of Traumatic Stress.

After 12 weeks on the antidepressant sertraline (Zoloft), four out of the five women who completed the open clinical study responded positively to treatment.

"Sertraline reduced PTSD and related symptoms in these rape victims," the authors report. "The mean Clinician Administered PTSD Scale (CAPS) scores decreased by 53 percent...

"If supported by a larger controlled trial, the use of SSRIs like sertraline should be considered an option in the treatment of PTSD in rape survivors."

SSRIs (selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors) represent a relatively new class of antidepressants which includes fluoxetine (Prozac) and fluvoxomine (Luvox) as well as Zoloft. Other studies of pharmacological agents for PTSD have evaluated treatment primarily in war veterans. While PTSD symptoms are similar no matter the trauma, the researchers say that treatment of war veterans with PTSD is complicated by a high incidence of substance abuse in that population.

"There is a striking similarity of response to different trauma including combat, rape, accidents, and disasters," the authors write. "Many people respond to a life threatening trauma with acute symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and a high percentage develop chronic PTSD. The lifetime prevalence of PTSD has been estimated to be 12 percent of women in the general population."

Dr. Rothbaum has begun to recruit patients with PTSD from any cause for a controlled clinical trial of Zoloft treatment. Interested persons may call 404-727-8968.

For more general information on The Robert W. Woodruff Health Sciences Center, call Health Sciences News and Information at 404-727-5686, or send e-mail to hsnews@emory.edu.

Emory University Health Sciences Center

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