PTSD Treatment May Still Involve Sedatives Despite VA Guidelines

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) affects many disabled veterans who seek health care through the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) medical facilities. But despite VA guidelines that advise against using benzodiazepines like Xanax or Valium, some VA doctors continue to prescribe them to treat PTSD, according to Stars and Stripes.

According to Dr. Nancy Bernardy, one of the VA’s clinical psychologists at the National Center for PTSD, nearly one-third of disabled veterans being treated for PTSD are given these sedatives. Typically used to treat disabling conditions such as seizures, insomnia and anxiety, these drugs were considered a better alternative to previously prescribed barbiturates which had a higher risk of abuse and overdose.

But they may interfere with the preferred method of treatment, prolonged exposure therapy. Therefore, the VA’s guidelines caution against use in veterans with PTSD, especially because many of these patients may also have substance abuse problems.

Prescription records of 357,000 veterans documented with PTSD from 2009 show that 37 percent were taking benzodiazepines for their disabling condition, according to a study with which Bernardy was involved. Many of these disabled veterans were Vietnam-era veterans who had been prescribed the sedatives years before the current VA guidelines were created.

If you are a disabled veteran suffering from the symptoms of PTSD such as anxiety, insomnia, irritability, mood swings, panic attacks, and other social disorders, you can seek evaluation by a mental health professional at a VA clinic or hospital. If you are diagnosed with PTSD, you may qualify for veterans disability benefits.

PTSD is one of several disabling conditions that may qualify for veterans disability benefits. If you have been denied disability compensation or have not yet applied for disability benefits from the VA, contact the Law Offices of Veterans Help Group to learn about your options 1-855-855-8992.