Army researchers have been examining an inexpensive and generic drug called prazosin that has been used for combat veterans in need of more restorative sleep.
The principal investigators for this study are based at the Puget Sound Veterans Administration Hospital, Col. Kris Petersen, Chief of Psychiatry at Madigan Army Medical Center, and Dr. Murray Raskind, the director of mental health services.
Prazosin came to market in 1973 as a adjunct treatment for high blood pressure and also to ameliorate the symptoms of an enlarged prostate.
In the late 1990′s Raskind was able to demonstrate that prazosin was effective in reducing nightmares, and their effects on sleep patterns in a population of Vietnam Veterans. Recurring nightmares and intrusive recollections of war are quite common in veterans of war.
It is theorized that surges in adrenaline in the brain are a causative factor in nightmares. These surges are part of the adaptive survival mechanism in combat. When leaving the combat arena, the arousal mechanism does not shut down, leaving the veteran in a hyper-vigilant state, even in sleep. Prazosin assists in suppressing that surge of bio-chemical reactions.
Many veterans have unfortunately turned to alcohol to slow down the brain in order to sleep, and abate the symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress. This is, of course, a false tonic and leads to endless other health issues. With small doses of prazosin near bedtime and one during the day, it has been noted that alcohol usage has abated, suicidal ideation has disappeared and normal sleep patterns have returned.
I can testify to knowing a handful of veterans who have reported these positive results. However the question always remains, with a nursing drop-out like me, do we report all of the findings and the effects of long term usage? I am also somewhat suspect of an old drug that is “morphed” for a new usage. For the meantime, a pharmacological answer to searing of the soul is probably okay. But the soul has its own pilgrimage, and it is not with pills. What do you think?