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March 1990

Treatment of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder With Amitriptyline and Placebo

Author Affiliations

From the Duke University Medical Center (Drs Davidson, Kudler, Mahorney, Lipper, and Hammett, Ms Smith, and Mr Saunders) and the Veterans Administration Medical Center (Drs Kudler, Mahorney, Lipper, Hammett, and Cavenar), Durham, NC.

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1990;47(3):259-266. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1990.01810150059010

• Amitriptyline hydrochloride was compared with placebo in 46 veterans with chronic posttraumatic stress disorder. Treatment continued up to 8 weeks, and efficacy was measured by five observer and two self-rated scales. Percent recovery rates were higher for amitriptyline than placebo on two measures. In patients who completed 4 weeks (n = 40), better outcome with amitriptyline was noted on the Hamilton depression scale only. In the group completing 8 weeks of treatment (n = 33), the drug was superior to placebo on Hamilton depression, Hamilton anxiety, Clinical Global Impression severity, and Impact of Event scales. There was no evidence for drug effects on the structured interview for posttraumatic stress disorder. Drug-placebo differences were greater in the presence of comorbidity in general, although recovery rates were uniformly low in the presence of major depression, panic disorder, and alcoholism. At the end of treatment, 64% of the amitriptyline and 72% of the placebo samples still met diagnostic criteria for posttraumatic stress disorder.