Antiepileptic drugs for the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder

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Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a disruptive, chronic, and relatively common disorder that is often difficult to treat. Many patients with PTSD are unresponsive, have only moderate or marginal responses, or have troubling side effects to first-line serotonin reuptake inhibitor treatment. Studies suggest that antiepileptic drugs (AEDs) may be an effective treatment alternative or adjunctive treatment for the symptoms of PTSD. Recent results from case reports and open and controlled studies on the efficacy and tolerability of AEDs in PTSD are reviewed here, and their methodological limitations are discussed when relevant. AEDs shown to be effective in double-blind, placebo-controlled trials of PTSD include lamotrigine, topiramate, and tiagabine. Other AEDs that appear promising in open-label trials of PTSD include carbamazepine, valproate, gabapentin, vigabatrin, phenytoin, and levetiracetam. Stress-activated limbic kindling may be involved in the pathogenesis of PTSD. The possibility that AEDs may be effective in the treatment of PTSD due to their antikindling effect is discussed, and suggestions for future research are made.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)291-300
Number of pages10
JournalCurrent Psychiatry Reports
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 2007


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