Individuals with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and/or traumatic brain injury (TBI) may benefit from treatment with a drug normally prescribed for treatment of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), results of a multicenter US study have revealed. The researchers found that methylphenidate not only improved PTSD symptoms but also depressive and postconcussive symptoms in individuals with PTSD, TBI, or both. The drug also improved cognition. The research was published online in Neuropsychopharmacology.
The investigators conducted a 12-week, randomized, double-blinded, placebo-controlled study in which 32 individuals with a history of PTSD, TBI, or both conditions were assigned to receive galantamine or methylphenidate at doses used in previously published trials or placebo. As expected, the investigators found methylphenidate to be associated with significant improvements relative to placebo in terms of cognitive complaints (effect size = 0.337) and in the Digit Symbol measure of attention (P = .011). Strikingly, methylphenidate was also associated with significant reductions in postconcussive symptoms relative to placebo at weeks 4, 8, and 12 (effect size at week 12, 0.886). In addition, the drug was associated with significant improvements in depressive symptoms at all three time points (effect size at week 12, 0.497). The researchers also found that PTSD symptoms, as reflected on scores on the Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Checklist, were significantly improved with methylphenidate over placebo at all time points, at an effect size of 0.881 at 12 weeks. This equated to a mean drop of 13 points by week 12.