Prazosin for PTSD

NOTICE: This health information was not created by the University of Michigan Health System (UMHS) and may not necessarily reflect specific UMHS practices. For medical advice relating to your personal condition, please consult your doctor. Complete disclaimer

Prazosin for PTSD

Examples

Generic Name Brand Name
prazosin Minipress

How It Works

If you have post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), your body may release too much adrenaline. Adrenaline is a hormone that can make you feel stressed and have nightmares.

Prazosin blocks some of the effects of adrenaline released in your body. This may help reduce the nightmares and sleep problems you have with PTSD.

Why It Is Used

By keeping you from having nightmares, prazosin may help you get better sleep. With better sleep, you can feel healthier and more alert. This may help lower your stress and help you feel more in control of your life.

How Well It Works

Research shows that prazosin may help reduce nightmares, one of the symptoms of PTSD.1 More research is needed to confirm its effectiveness for treating PTSD.

Side Effects

Side effects include:

  • Low blood pressure (hypotension).
  • A slow heart rate (bradycardia).
  • A cough or wheezing, which means the airways that carry air to the lungs are narrowing (bronchospasm).
  • Thinking and acting more slowly.
  • Stuffy nose, headache, and swelling in the legs. These are rare side effects.

See Drug Reference for a full list of side effects. (Drug Reference is not available in all systems.)

What To Think About

Since prazosin is more commonly used for high blood pressure, your doctor may want to look into its benefits for PTSD.

Prazosin may help reduce your nightmares, but it is not a cure for PTSD. Nightmares and anxiety may come back if you stop taking your medicine.

Prazosin lowers blood pressure (hypotension), which can make you feel dizzy. This usually stops when your body is used to prazosin. Be careful not to stand up too fast, especially if your dose has just been changed.

Erection drugs like Viagra also can lower your blood pressure. If you're taking erection drugs along with prazosin, your blood pressure may drop very fast. Tell your doctor if you're taking drugs for erection problems.

Prazosin can be taken safely with other PTSD medicines, such as antidepressants, but not with trazodone. Taking prazosin with trazodone can cause the rare side effect of priapism. This is an erection that doesn't go away, which can cause serious health problems.

Complete the new medication information form (PDF) (What is a PDF document?) to help you understand this medication.

References

Citations

  1. Van Liempt S, et al. (2006). Pharmacotherapeutic treatment of nightmares and insomnia in posttraumatic stress disorder: An overview of the literature. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1071: 502–507.

Credits

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Jessica Hamblen, PhD - Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
Last Revised January 13, 2011

This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information. Your use of this information means that you agree to the Terms of Use. How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.

© 1995-2012 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.