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May 2, 2002


Trauma and Anxiety Recovery Program at Emory Conducts New Medication Study for Trauma Victims

Debilitating anxiety and depression can result from experiencing or even witnessing a traumatic event such as the attack of September 11, a physical assault, or a serious car accident. Barbara Rothbaum, Ph.D., associate professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Emory University School of Medicine and director of the Trauma and Anxiety Program, is conducting a study using two separate medications to treat victims of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Persons with PTSD undergo the torment of re-experiencing a traumatic event, resulting in nightmares, flashbacks, emotional numbing and avoidance, sleep disturbances, exaggerated startle reactions and hypervigilance. The anxiety can lead to depression and relationship problems.

This study will compare the rate of improvement in people with PTSD who are treated with either venlafaxine extended-release, sertraline or a placebo. Venlafaxine is an experimental medication that has been shown to be effective in treating depression and anxiety. Sertraline is an antidepressant medication and a member of the family of drugs known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). Participants can experience the symptoms of PTSD as a result of, but not limited to, traumatic events such as sexual assault, childhood physical or sexual abuse, domestic violence, combat, physical assault, witnessing homicides or other horrifying events, major accidents and injuries, or major disasters. The study will last for 12 weeks after which the medication will be gradually decreased over a three-week period.

Wyeth-Ayerst Pharmaceuticals is sponsoring the study. For more information or to volunteer, call Emory study coordinator Andrea Blount, Ph.D., 404/778-2206.

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