Alpha-2 receptor agonists for the treatment of posttraumatic stress disorder

Molly R Belkin, Thomas L Schwartz


Clonidine and guanfacine are alpha-2 receptor agonists that decrease sympathetic outflow from the central nervous system. Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is an anxiety disorder that is theorized to be related to a hyperactive sympathetic nervous system. Currently, the only US Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved medications for PTSD are the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) sertraline and paroxetine. Sometimes use of the SSRIs may not lead to full remission and symptoms of hyperarousal often persist. This article specifically reviews the literature on alpha-2 receptor agonist use for the treatment of PTSD and concludes that while the evidence base is limited, these agents might be considered useful when SSRIs fail to treat symptoms of agitation and hyperarousal in patients with PTSD.

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Belkin MR, Schwartz TL. Alpha-2 receptor agonists for the treatment of posttraumatic stress disorder. Drugs in Context 2015; 4:212286. DOI: 10.7573/dic.212286

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