Post-traumatic stress disorder: a review of psychobiology and pharmacotherapy


Ida Hageman, Department of Psychiatry, Rigshospitalet, DK-2100 Copenhagen, Denmark


Objective: To review the literature on the psychobiology and pharmacotherapy of PTSD.

Method: Relevant studies were identified by literature searches (Pub-med, web of science) and through reference lists. The search was ended by May 2001.

Results: There is evidence of involvement of opioid, glutamatergic, GABAergic, noradrenergic, serotonergic and neuroendocrine pathways in the pathophysiology of PTSD. Medications shown to be effective in double-blind placebo-controlled trials includes selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, reversible and irreversible MAO-inhibitors, tricyclic antidepressants and the anticonvulsant lamotrigine. Still more agents appear promising in open-label trials.

Conclusion: The complexity of the psychobiology is reflected by the difficulties in treating the disorder. According to the present knowledge, suggestions for drug treatment of PTSD are made.