Veterans who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder are routinely pumped full of antipsychotic drugs. And as most of them will tell you (in language I can't use here), those drugs aren't doing a darn thing for them.
And now there's research to back them up -- and it's not all in their head.
Researchers randomly assigned 247 combat vets who were suffering from PTSD to either the antipsychotic medication Risperdal (aka risperidone), or a placebo, for six months.
In both groups, only 5 percent of veterans had a complete recovery. In both groups, between 10 percent and 20 percent showed some modest improvement. And in both groups, the vets reported similar scores for depression, anxiety, and quality of life.
In other words, the study in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that this "powerful" drug has all the power of a sugar pill.
But while the vets who took the drug didn't get any relief, they did get a few other things: side effects such as weight gain and fatigue, including an extreme level of fatigue known as somnolence.
While the study only involved Risperdal, the researchers say they believe similar antipsychotic drugs -- including Seroquel, Geodon, and Abilify -- will prove to be every bit as useless.
Fortunately, our soldiers don't have to wait for Big Pharma to answer the call when it comes to PTSD. The U.S. military itself has been quietly investigating some of the best alternative treatments, including hyperbaric oxygen therapy, fish oil, cognitive-behavioral therapy, and acupuncture.
And the early word from many veterans who've tried these treatments has been encouraging (and printable).
Some of the most promising research involves acupuncture, with medics in the field even using the needles to treat the traumatic brain injuries.
Back on the homefront, research on the technique for PTSD itself is under way right now.
In one small recent study, veterans suffering from PTSD who were given either acupuncture or group cognitive-behavioral therapy for 12 weeks had significant improvements when compared to a control group. The benefits lasted for full three months after treatment.
Obviously, we need more studies to ensure these treatments really do work -- but since we now know for sure that drugs don't, let's stop wasting time and give veterans the real thanks they deserve.
Let's get them healed.